My father-in-law’s 100th birthday

On February 24, 2013, I celebrated my father-in-law’s 100th birthday.

Arthur Blowen has been gone now for 28 years, and the people who were his peers and friends are mostly gone. There are many family stories about him. They are told as mythic journeys, Arthur slaying the dragons that assailed him. Here’s the plot line of his early life as a hero’s journey. Below is a brief review of 15 years of his life–the part of his life that makes for an interesting subject for a memoir (vs. autobiograhy).

The stories tell about how he quit high school [seeming defeat at the hand of the dragons]  to help support his family who valued his financial contribution more than they prized his education.  [the hero’s battle] He went to night school because he really wanted to go to college [the hero’s call to which he strives to rise to] and saved his money. At 23, he enrolled in Bates College (Lewiston, Maine)  but had to take six years to earn his BA as he had to support himself [hero’s struggle as the dragons seek to defeat him]. He served as a telephone switch board operator at Central Maine General Hospital and waited on tables at the president’s house at Bates. He sang church solos around Lewiston and Auburn (Maine). Finally at 29, he received his undergraduate degree and went on  to graduate school–Hartford (CT) Seminary. [Hero’s arrival within reach of the prize] Finally in his early thirties, Arthur was ordained and began a career a a Congregational minister. [The hero brings the grail to the world.]

A task I hope you will pick up: frame a story you are writing in terms of a hero’s journey.

Do you have a hero’s journey to share? Write it below.

About Denis Ledoux

Denis Ledoux began helping people to turn their memories into memoirs in 1988. Denis was named Lifewriting Professional of the Year by the Association of Personal Historians in 1996. Today, Denis is a writer, educator, teacher, autobiography co-author, memoir-writing coach, editor and publisher. He directs The Memoir Network, an international group of memoir professionals who use his method and materials to help people write lifestories. Denis also offers writing tele-classes and leads memoir writing tele-groups.
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4 Responses to My father-in-law’s 100th birthday

  1. This is a great prompt and I will be back soon with my “heroic” effort. I am still very pleased with the book Martha designed for me several years ago and happy to see what you are up to.

  2. The novel I began writing for NANOWRIMO 2013 was based on a modification of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey mono myth. While doing research on this plot structure, I decided my father’s story was a good fit even though it’s not fiction. Since I use Scrivener software for both fiction and non-fiction, I downloaded a free Hero’s Journey template ( which simplifies the writing process.

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