Before I begin with today’s post, I must apologize that I cannot yet write about yesterday’s “Applause, Applause” bookends that I wrote about last night. It seems my USB cable is plugged in some other computer far, far away from here, and I will have to wait at least a day to download the pictures from last night. It’s all good, though; it gives me time to get pictures from Sound of Music to make the post even more visually wonderful. 🙂 Thanks for your patience!
Now, on with today’s post: What’s Your Story?
In the last 24 hours, I have been surrounded by stories, which have stirred the muse within to touch on more personal stories that I keep meaning to bring to life on the page–both real and imagined. Yesterday (at the theatre watching Sound of Music) and last night (with old friends and listening to great music), I found myself saying, over and over again: “Have you ever thought about writing all this down and sharing your story?” Most people give me looks of merging emotions: hope, fear, trepidation, excitement. It’s not that they don’t want to; it’s that they don’t know how to.
I find this to be the most common roadblock to people using writing to share their stories with a larger audience. All of the feelings of insignificance and inferiority (“Who would want to read my story? It’s not like I’m famous or anything.”) are symptoms, I think, of that fear of failure and that lack of knowledge about the process itself. There is a great gap between throwing your thoughts down on paper and actually publishing them.
One positive outcome of the digital revolution is the ease with which somebody can share their stories with others through self-publishing. Blogs are free and easy to set up. It’s just a matter of sitting butt in chair and writing that takes the greatest amount of work. Everybody else has taken care of the technical stuff that used to bog us down.
If you are thinking about taking it to another level, though, and putting your experiences out there with a largely unknown audience, then you need to take OFF your creative hat and put ON your business hat. There is a definite process and structure in place for you when you are at that stage. For now, though, none of that matters. What matters is that you see the importance in telling your story.
Your life may be important to several different groups. Your kids or family members might be interested in seeing the world through your eyes. Those yet born in your family (grandchildren and other relatives) will be fascinated with “knowing” you, even though they may never meet you or have the desire at such a young age to ask you important questions about you and your life and how those experiences are important to them.
Other groups might be just as interested. I am doing research right now about the Ma/Pa Railroad that ran through Maryland and Pennsylvania in the 1930’s, and personal testimonials are absolute gold to me. These folks had no idea whatsoever that I, or anybody else, for that matter, would be fascinated by their travel diaries. Their words, though, are the backbone of my story for some of my characters. I would not be able to preserve this piece of history and report it accurately in my work of fiction had it not been for their efforts to put it all down in writing AND make it accessible to me 80 years later.
My brother Rob is writing a book about his experiences as a caregiver, and it will benefit thousands of readers, most of whom he will never even meet. He can’t be bogged down by that, though. Sometimes, we must have faith in the possibility that our words will be beneficial to others, and we may never even know it.
My blog is no different. There are times when I don’t get any comments or “likes” on Facebook for the daily posts; it’s discouraging only because I don’t have that affirmation that people are reading my blog. Last night, though, a good friend told me that one of my earlier posts, “I Believe in You,” had a strong impact on her. Her kind words reminded me, all over again, that I cannot be worried about knowing who is or is not reading my entries. What I write today might not have an impact on another reader for another few months or maybe even years, if at all.
If I don’t put it out there, though, in the first place–then I am depriving everybody from ever having that possible experience or reaction. It’s a terribly selfish thing to think that nobody will ever care or ever want to read what you have to say. Just tell your story. I promise you: Somebody will care, and somebody will benefit greatly from your words.
I am encouraged by the number of people who have come up to me and said that they have started a blog after reading my posts. Keep it up! And remember, never beat yourself up about the frequency of your posts. Write as often as you can with no regrets. We will all benefit anytime you contribute your thoughts and experiences with the masses–if not today or tomorrow, then certainly at some point in the future.