Last Wednesday afternoon, a storm packing high wind gusts blew in, downing trees and deck furniture. Our dogs sought comfort from Keith—I was in Charlottesville—and hid in the basement. On my drive home that day, and upon arrival, I found evidence of the storm’s fury—even our metal bistro set toppled.
Writers often use violent storms as metaphors for pivotal events in their characters’ lives. Think of the hurricane in the movie Key Largo, representing the clash between the protagonist, a WWII veteran played by Humphrey Bogart, and the antagonist, a gangster played by Edward G. Robinson. All of us experience ups and downs, calm times then wild rides. Roller coaster swoops seem especially common in our younger years.
Yesterday, Keith and I hosted his sister, author K. Kidd, and her husband for lunch here at Vanaprastha. Her book A Rose for Sergei, published a little over two years ago, tells the story of an unexpected wind that blew into her young life.
“I was twenty-one when I met Soviet KGB defector Sergei Kourdakov at my office in Washington D.C.,” she wrote in the book summary. “The moment we met, the immediate heated attraction surprised us both… How quickly I learned that love makes its own choices.”
My sister-in-law wrote a beautiful memoir about faith and love. Then she captured that bittersweet moment when life’s high winds knocked her down.
We chatted yesterday afternoon about that moment—we all have them—when an event blasts our perfect world away. And we are never the same.
It takes discipline to write, persistence to write well, and courage to publish your story for others to read. There will be criticism, questions about craft, the narrative, and truth: This reads like fiction, is it really true?
Writing a spiritual memoir—maybe all good memoirs are spiritual journeys—is an exercise in shadow boxing. The author as character is both protagonist and antagonist. And like Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson in Key Largo, both face the hurricane’s winds, and in the end only one remains standing.