Monthly Archives: November 2012

Story Telling – A Gift To The Writer

Writing is a gift to the writer first.

Let me explain.

When I was a kid and before I had developed enough skill to write stories on paper I loved to tell them orally. I made them up in my head as I went along. I shared the stories with anyone close enough to hear them. Many times the realistic tale freaked people out, because they thought it was true. I got myself a reputation then, and not a very nice one as you might imagine.

I remember from childhood one particular story telling episode. It happened over 30 years ago and is still discussed at family Christmas parties.

I was at my cousin’s house playing in the basement. She had a really cool chalk board. It was great for role playing teacher and drawing pictures. One day I picked up a piece of chalk, told my cousin to take a seat and started drawing out a map of her house. I then drew the road that led from her house to mine, a couple blocks away. I wrote the title above the map “our escape plan”. The map finished, the plans made we sat down to watch our favorite kids shows. A while later my mother picked me up and we went home. I showered and snuggled into bed at the usual time.

Around midnight my Aunt called my Mother.. My cousin was packed and sitting on the edge of her bed waiting for me to come and get her. Mother woke me and \I picked up the phone. I told her it was just a game and I wasn’t really coming to get her. The next day, I got in big trouble for that little tale.

Anyway my cousin and I grew up and I went away to begin my life as an adult. I snagged a decent office job, met and married my husband and we had two lovely daughters. The writing was not forgotten only buried under a heap of responsibilities.

Like most there were a few rough patches to deal with along the way. In quick succession I was hit with two major life altering situations. First I was made redundant at work and second my mother passed away. This sent me into a dark period of life.

Depression took over and I could do little other than sit on the couch and stare at nothing in particular while unable to grasp a clear thought. Sometime within that year I decided to try writing again. I knew from past experience it is a great form of therapy and what did I have left to lose? Maybe if nothing else, I thought, it can help me find a little footing again.

I sat at the keyboard day after day looking at the blank page writing crazy stuff and feeling like yet another failure was upon me. Then I picked up a random self help book in my office. One I hadn’t looked at for years. I knew that if I hoped to be a decent writer I had to get myself to a place where I was clear mind and effective in my life.

With the support of my family alongside the passion for writing I was able to keep going. Not just keep going but to actually use the desire and passion to write to help pull myself from the darkness and develop further as a responsible and effective human being.

The gift of a love for writing made all the difference. My family was great but they didn’t understand me during that dark phase. Who can blame them, I was incomprehensible. Getting myself centered again and back on target because I really wanted to learn the writing craft along with the stubborn persistence I had to carry on is the thing that pulled me out of my self induced prison.

So you see when you focus on something good, positive, something you love it is a gift. For me it is writing that is the gift that saved me. How did it help save me? It drove me to continue with self development and renewed my love of reading and writing. I am so thankful for the desire to be a writer and even happier to be writing these words today.

How has your passion and desire for writing improved your life?

Write A Great Story – It’s All About Connection

If you seek to be understood, first seek to understand. Stephen Covey

Writers love to write, or at least I hope they do, otherwise it might be a waste of time. I love to write and was doing so from personal perspective and for my pleasure. But only to write for self enjoyment and through the blinders of my beliefs became an even bigger waste of time. I believed the story would sell itself based on the passion and love put into it.

My thinking is shifting and while writing this way can be fun and help connect with a few people, ultimately it is not my souls’ goal.

A story read by a handful of people and totally ignored by the majority is a result of writing from narrow perspective. The reason it is largely ignored is simple; there is no connection with the greater population whose perspectives differ from our own. Or more harshly stated, they simply do not care about the story because it has no connection to their own understanding or life.

The purpose of a great fictional tale is to create a story that connects with many readers. Those readers are people. Individuals with ideas and beliefs not always the same as our own. If the goal is to be read by and connect with many an ability to create characters with diverse perspectives real. When that aim is accomplished the writer has done their job effectively.

If enough honest effort, a sort of paying the price, has gone into the writing and the story is well marketed  many more will read, connect with and hopefully enjoy it.

However, enjoyment is not the goal either. If the tale is disliked that’s OK because the key here is connection.

This week I read a book on how to achieve deeper connections with others. I learned that stepping outside of my little sense of reality and truly listening minus my personal biased and judgements is a powerful way to understand beliefs that are foreign to me. When I successfully understand where another is coming from the knowledge base in the brain expands.

In checking the personal perspective at the door before stepping into new worlds we take on an empathic ability to listen. Living one’s life from a place of empathy is a great way to co exists with people.  We learn to see the world through their eyes and our understanding of reality in all its shapes and colors grows.

I started reading this self help material to improve interpersonal relationships. The writer in me soon discovered it is not limited to improving interactions. I wondered how the understanding of others can improve the writing.

Learning about the beliefs and perspectives of others can be used to develop characters in a big way. It supplies access to broader perspective and all the differing ideas swirling around in this great big world. The beliefs of others can help us achieve a depth of writing that is unavailable in our small narrow world view.

The characters become more realistic as these new perspectives are integrated into their development. As opposed to cardboard cut outs of what we believe to be true of others. The more personal perspective is checked at the door before entering the home of another, or in this case the story of a character, the easier it is to write about their lives honestly.

When interactions involve openly listening without judgement to a person, a new ability to practice compassion is developed. We treat people with respect and empathy. This compassionate action spills over onto the page creating rich characters in story.

We stop judging and censoring the characters in much the same way we are learning to stop doing it with real people. No longer satisfied with creating cookie cutter persona’s that exist only in our small personal beliefs, the characters begin to run freely through our mind. Stepping out and behaving in ways that are authentic to the to that characters paradigm. We may not always agree with a characters action but we will accept it and write it with as much understanding on his/her perspective as we have learned from our real time interactions with people.

The simplest truth here is this: when we are open to others in real life by silencing our perspective for a time. We gain a level of empathy and compassion. Stories are then written minus the judgmental censorship that is a result of a narrow view point. Perspective has broadened to include multiple ideas, beliefs and struggles. We choose to write as well as live in the spirit of empathy. Life and the stories we write now take on the multiple realities we live within each moment.