Writers are encouraged to read widely in the genre in which they are writing. As a result, I have been reading and listening to a lot of memoirs. It only recently occurred to me to share the bounty with you.
When someone has the courage to allow their life to be guided by their authentic spirit within, I am inspired. That is especially true when everything in their external life tells them they should be someone else.
Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin
Nicole Hardy’s memoir is funny and thoughtful as she allows us into her most intimate struggles with remaining faithful to her desire to be a writer and not the homemaker, wife, and mother that is supposed to lead to her eternal reward. As a single Mormon, she risks separation from all she holds dear to be true to herself and live a full life that includes expressing herself physically as well as emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
Inspired by a professor in her MFA program, “Write what you fear,” Nicole wrote about her struggles with celibacy and read to a writer’s group of mostly strangers. They received her with great enthusiasm and encouraged her to send her essay to Daniel Jones, the New York Times editor of the Modern Love column. He found her essay, “Single, Female, Mormon, Alone” intriguing and published it. It was chosen as “notable” in 2012’s Best American Essays.
Most touching for me was the way her parents struggled to understand and accept their free-thinking daughter’s choices while never withdrawing their love for her, finally realizing the gift she had given to others in their faith by being her authentic self. Without knowing it, Nicole gave voice to the struggles of many Mormons, opening dialogue between parents and children and the church-at-large, creating the possibility of finding a better way of nurturing the singles in their midst.
When the radiance of the human spirit shines through in a transformative way, I am inspired. That is especially true when the transformation happens in the midst of a journey into darkness.
A House in the Sky
Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett
Amanda Lindhout’s memoir is an amazing account of transcending one of the most horrific of life experiences. She developed compassion for the Islamic extremist who held her in captivity for fifteen harrowing months.
Upon her release, she emerged as a sought after speaker on topics of forgiveness, compassion, and women’s rights.
Inspired by a woman who tried to help her escape, she founded the Global Enrichment Foundation to provide scholarships to Somali women to attend university. When asked why she did this, she responded, “Because I had something very, very large and very painful to forgive, and by choosing to do that, I was able to put into place my vision, which was making Somalia a better place.” She believes that if her captor’s mothers had such an opportunity for education, they would have treated her differently.