WILLIWAWS: Do you have a good story to tell?

If you haven't written it down, maybe it's time to think about doing so

Do you have a story to tell? Have you written it? Why not?

We all have at least one, probably more than one story to tell.

Quite likely these stories will never be found in the Parliamentary Library or even on a shelf in our local bookstore, but somehow, somewhere we have told and should be writing our stories.

Some stories we have told only to ourselves, inside our own heads. Sometimes we tell ourselves stories untruthfully to make us feel better or to achieve the happy endings we yearn for.

As our own stories unwind on our inner screens it’s always easier to portray oneself as the heroine or the character who resolves the problem and rises from the ashes of turmoil scarred but still whole, perhaps with our adversaries lying wounded and bleeding in our wake.





If we pursue that plot line, we at least get an ending we think we can live with.



But then a story may, unbidden but more realistically, re-write itself and we find that we are cast in the role of underdog or victim and we know immediately that this is not the outcome we wish for our star character and we’re stuck with a less than satisfactory, though perhaps more truthful ending.

There are other ways of telling our stories. When our inner keyboards hammer incessantly and the stories become too nagging to contain we may choose someone to attend our “reading”. Naturally we hope for empathy and understanding, a viewpoint to match our plot, and a positive, soothing critique. But choose your audience with care – some may see through your contrived character sketches and a plot that doesn’t wash – and make no bones about telling you so. Then your head must do a complete re-write, and shed the defensive strategies. While thus involved you can expect several sessions of “teller’s” block.

But there’s a safer and more therapeutic way to work out your story. Get it out of that squirrel cage of your head where it’s constantly doomed to deletions and insertions and can reach no conclusion, happy or otherwise. Write it! I’m not talking about publication here – for anyone other than yourself. Simply write down, as in a journal, whatever your story wants to say. Don’t debate with yourself about what to write or not to write, just try to keep up with your thoughts and get it all out there on the pages.

If you’re tempted to keyboard this into your word processor, I’d say don’t! Use a pencil or pen and paper. The link between head and the words on the paper is more intimate; it’s more a part of you, and more likely to be the real thing. You don’t need a fancy leather -covered book of creamy vellum pages; you’ll only worry about penmanship and mistakes marring the book. Use a scribbler, a notebook, or scrap paper. Whatever you produce here is for your eyes only. Ugly words may come out. You may at some later date, when the story and its writing have left you at peace, want to burn the whole thing. Be economical.

And don’t feel that writing down your unraveling story is something that must be done every day. Write when the words and thoughts are bursting to get out; it doesn’t matter whether a day or a week goes by between entries. The main thing is to be brutally honest with your statements and write down the questions that you know need answers.

This is not easy stuff to do at first because you are still “editing” and protecting yourself. It does get easier. Thoughts, that in your head, wandered off into in-completion and frustration will find themselves finished. The “illustrations” in your story will come into focus. You may see what you couldn’t see before; conclusions – obvious, painful, or sensible may appear. You may see a path that hitherto wasn’t visible.

So tell your story to yourself, in print. Let each “chapter” sit and rest for awhile. Then read it, and read it again … and write some more.


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