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Darien Gee
Darien Gee

Quote of the Week: “Your choices of action may be limited—but your choices of thought are not.” Abraham Hicks

Writing Exercise of the Week: Write for 10 minutes about a time you did something you regret.

All stories, fiction or nonfiction, are built on defining moments. These moments change a character for better or for worse. In real life, defining moments push us into being more (or less) of who we deeply are. Defining moments put us on one side of the fence or the other.

Defining moments are fast. They happen in a second, maybe two, with very little build-up and almost no notice. As quickly as they occur, they are over.

Defining moments are like opening a door and walking through it, and then realizing the door has closed behind you. You can’t go back and even if you could, it wouldn’t be the same. Crossing that threshold signals an irrevocable shift, whether you want it to happen or not. You are no longer the same person you were a minute ago.

Are all defining moments profound or huge? Not necessarily. It’s not the act of the moment itself but how you react to it. What do you choose to do or not to do? Your decision in that moment sets you on a path. Sometimes the most powerful moments are one in which you act in a manner that’s unexpected or seemingly out of character.

Every moment is an opportunity for something deeper. Novelists know this, and those writing memoirs know that readers seek out life-changing moments or experiences. The extraordinary in ordinary moments. It doesn’t have to be high drama, but it has to have high stakes. It may be a decision that seems inconsequential to others but you know the weight of what could happen. And when it does happen, it changes you.

If you have a story to tell, think about those defining moments that seem quiet but pack a punch. We expect a lost job, cancer diagnosis, or car accident to have such implications, but what about the teacher who gave you your first A (or F), a family ring that was lost then found, a dress that’s been hanging in the closet for years that you can finally fit into? What about a smell that reminds you of tutu’s kitchen or faraway summers on Kauai or your hands in the dirt of your father’s farm?

Defining moments are life-changing and at times difficult, but remember—there is no growth in the status quo. Consider the defining moments in your life and try writing them down, if not for you then for the other people in your life who might benefit and appreciate knowing more about you.

Darien Gee is a national bestselling author who lives with her family in Waimea. Her latest book, Writing the Hawai’i Memoir (Watermark Publishing), helps writers get the stories of their lives down on paper. Her next five-week memoir writing workshop begins July 22 at 6 p.m. at Waimea Community Education (register by June 30 for an early bird discount). You can also join her at Tutu’s House on July 10 at 10 a.m. for “Telling Your Story: An Introduction to Memoir.” Learn more at and

North Hawaii News

Summer Memoir Writing Contest

Try your hand at memoir for a fun June challenge. Choose a moment in time, a person or a memory in your life and write about it. But don’t just tell us – show us. Use all of your senses to remember by describing the smells, sounds, colors and conversations in your submission.

For tips and structure, check out Darien Gee’s newest book, “Writing the Hawai’i Memoir” available at Bentley’s and Crackseed, etc., and on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

Submissions should be about 300 words and may be sent to Lisa Dahm, managing editor, at, or it can be mailed to us by June 30.

Three winners will be selected, and their work will be published in our paper in July. Winners will also receive a memoir writing kit to get started that includes a signed copy of “Writing the Hawai’i Memoir,” pencils, a standard composition book and a $10 gift card to the Waimea Coffee Company in Parker Square. Happy writing!