The Tao of Memoir Writing: Part 2


This is the second in a series of six posts by Matilda Butler.

Tao [dau], n. way or path

Yin [yin], n. negative, dark

Yang [yahng], n. positive, bright

Let’s consider a second element in the Tao of memoir writing. Our lives are not a series of unrelated elements. Each flows into the other. I put it this way:

Yin becomes yang as night becomes day.

Each has an element of the other within it. Yin and yang are opposites, yet interdependent. Together they represent the process of transformation.

In telling our stories, we look for elements that brought about changes in us or in others because of us. Are there the seeds of one in the other? Does tragedy lead to new hope? Does happiness eventually come from pain? Does health come from sickness?

Lives are not all yin or all yang but an ever-changing combination of the two.

A TAO OF MEMOIR WRITING TIP: Take time to consider the turning points in your life. In reflecting on your life, what do you think has made you the person you are today? Influences from the geography in which you were raised? A relative or teacher who helped redirect your life? A passion that you “gift” to someone else? A trauma that redirected your energies? A death that released you to be the person you are?

Create a list of turning points in your life. These might be times when you moved from yin to yang or the opposite. Create a second list of people who have helped you through your turning points or who even created them. Write a paragraph on one combination of a turning point event and a person involved in the turning point.

What did you learn about yourself? Notice the interdependencies of dark and light, of negative and positive. Be attentive to the events and people in your life, including those that seem like opposites. Understanding the yin and yang will help you develop the insights necessary for memoir writing.

by Matilda Butler

2 responses to “The Tao of Memoir Writing: Part 2

  1. This is a lovely way to look at life and life writing. Your exercises would be good to do even independently of writing memoir.

    On Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 5:04 AM, Telling HerStories: The Broad View wrote:

    > Matilda Butler posted: “This is the second in a series of six posts by > Matilda Butler. Tao [dau], n. way or path Yin [yin], n. negative, dark Yang > [yahng], n. positive, bright Let’s consider a second element in the Tao of > memoir writing. Our lives are not a series of” >

  2. Janet — Thanks for reading the blog. I agree with your point and appreciate you commenting.

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