Writing a story.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


From fifth grade on, I've really known one of my greatest loves is for writing.  I remember writing a story for my fifth grade class about a home in the woods that a girl grew up in.  She goes back to revisit this home years later.  I remember seeing this house, the stream and mill alongside, hearing its creaky floorboards so clearly in my adolescent mind.  I wrote it on the floor of our living room.  An itchy Oriental rug beneath me, I set my notebook, elbows, and pen on the seat of our wingback chairs and there I remained, having so much fun, until I was finished.  My Mom's calligraphy machine hummed in the background as I worked alongside her.  I remember being really proud of what I'd written.

We read our stories out loud to the class and my teacher exclaimed what a good story I had written.  I was so happy.  If I didn't already know it then, I am sure I was convinced right then and there that writing was what I was best at and enjoyed most.  Thank goodness I figured it out early because how many times, as kids, were we asked, "What's your favorite subject, kiddo?" by that weird uncle who you're not really sure you're even related to.  And while saying, "Uh.  Watching Sweet Valley High and eating Pop-Ice?  Pink and blue only?" would be a sure way to jet out of that conversation quickly, it's not what you're supposed to say.

For me, it was never math or science.  History is not my forte either.  I am known for, in middle school, when asked what the shot heard round the world was, saying, "Hiroshima?"  Ask me when Julius Ceaser lived and I couldn't even tell you whether it was BC or AD (and whether you spell it Caeser or Ceaser or Caesar for that matter).   And, when this "favorite subject" question was asked, you never wanted to reply with an activity or a sport.  Gym was the answer for the non-student.  For me?  English was my answer.  And while the books that my English class offered excited me, I give them a seven while writing took a ten.  Sure, books teach me how to write.  And books make me want to write.  But the actual writing is my favorite.

I think I long to write something that resonates with another person.  The books that have me nodding my head in both agreement and in awe (SHE feels this way TOO?  I thought I was the only one!?) inspire me to write, write, write.  Those are probably my favorite blog posts to write (and read) too.  The ones whose comments look something like, "Yes!  I could've written this myself!"  Are we all just longing to relate and be relateable?  To resonate with one another?  I think so.

Try as I might, nothing has stuck in my mind as the story I just must write.  The story my mind has fallen in love with just begging me to put its words on a page.  How do people even begin?  With the whole story in mind?  Introduction, conclusion, and everything in between?  Or do they start with just a first sentence?  How?   Here's one, a book: The Reader.  The two main characters have a relationship.  And he reads to her.  She loves it.  And then their lives drift apart and later he rediscovers her, on trial for war crimes.  He discovers she can't read.  She never could.  But she won't admit it.  It would prove her innocence if she would.  What I mean to say is that that story blew my mind.  "What a genius, that Bernard Schlink!" I thought.  How'd he come up with such a story?

I guess that's where I was going with all of this.  I need a story.  But, you know, some days it's a memoir I want to write.  Then, I guess I've already got my story?  Though, when I go down that road, I slap myself on the wrist because I think you've got to be older than 27 with a lot more living under your belt to have a memoir worth reading.

Oh, to have a story so rich for the telling.  Fiction, nonfiction.  I'll take it all.

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22 comments:

  1. looking forward to your memoir :) i think everyone has a story worth telling x

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  2. i think you've done a lot so far in your life!
    definitely enough for a memoir

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  3. Write what interests you. That's how I always find my ideas. Most of them stem from my love of history. I was obsessed with the American Girl books as a child and even wrote my first "novel" when I was 12 about an immigrant girl coming to America. I did all sorts of research at the library, setting it in my town before the Civil War. Needless to say, I got a lot of strange looks from the other 6th graders. :P

    My current stories blossomed out of interest in certain cultures and mythology. The fantasy one I'm working on now is based off an Indian legend about a princess who literally meets a prince in her dreams. I also have a Japanese story based off the legend of the Yuki-onna or snow woman.

    As you can see, you've hit a topic that I'm REALLY passionate about. Just jot down whatever ideas inspire you. I carry a notebook everywhere and have lots of tidbits of inspiration in it. There's really no right or wrong way to do it!

    And I'm done gabbing. Promise :)

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  4. And 27 is not too young for a memoir. From the story I've read about you on your blog, there's enough there!

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  5. This speaks to me so much. My heart is beating faster just reading these words. I wrote my first story not too long ago for that reason- I had a story I wanted to tell. It's not epic like The Reader, but it's from my heart and I think that in itself satisfies this inherent need to write every day.

    Just start writing, I say. A story will inevitably develop. It has to because there's a person like you behind it.

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  6. No joke I was just thinking about YOUR story the other day. I was thinking how has their story; a real story of love and loss, a story where a second chance collides with a first chance and makes for a happy (real) ever after, not been turned into a movie yet. And, truth be told, a book that gets turned into movie is better than just a movie itself. So write away sister.

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  7. I agree with so many of the other comments -- you should just start writing. Start with a little spin on your love story...you never know :)

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  8. I think you've got a pretty good start to your memoir already.

    So many of your blog posts genuinely resonate with me, that I end up thinking about them long after I've closed my laptop screen. Some that come to mind...bringing a 5th child into an already established family unit, the chapters of how your romance bloomed... Talking honestly about the challenges of being a parent to children who have lost their mom to cancer. I feel like you have so shared so many emotional, tug-at-my-heartstrings stories already, I sincerely cannot wait to read the rest!

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  9. My 83 year old grandmother just finished and printed her memoirs. She's kept journals all her life, and for me, at the bottom end of her grandchildren, it was such a blessing to read! Every piece of her story, from her birth, journey to Arizona from Oklahoma during the depression, meeting my grandfather, falling in love, having babies and then grandchildren was so huge, it may not mean a whole lot to anyone else, but I laughed and cried my way through the entire thing. It's even got me thinking about writing my own someday.

    I guess what I'm saying is do it, your future grandchildren will love you for it,

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  10. I think that trying to write at all - just doing it and finding your characters and story line along the way - is the best way to start.

    You could start with a few short stories and see if you fall in love with any one character or story to make it longer. I wish that I had literary flare.

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  11. Yes, writing...how do you start? I have wanted to write a book for so long now, but never seem to be able to start. Or if I do, I don't get far. I have also tried writing my life story...but at 31 it can't be that long, right? Good luck! I agree with the other comments, just start writing!

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  12. at the risk of telling you exactly what you want to hear, i do know just how you feel. I, too, long to write. Long to tell a story that's worth reading. I have been a book lover my whole life, and that feeling of thanks when I turn the page and can so clearly identify with what the writer means is something I would love to give someone else.

    Lately though, I've been doubting myself. Doubting my ability to tell a story, my ability to write anything worth reading. I stare at a blank computer screen with nothing to say. You have to start somewhere, and my best college professor always used to tell us to just start. Just write. Write your stream of consciousness until it starts to make sense.

    Thanks for writing this -- it's made my mind start swirling with ideas :)

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  13. @adriane, that is amazing. what a gift she's given everyone.

    @sophie, yes! we need to just start, eh?!

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  14. (Holy novel, I'm so sorry...)I'm no expert. But, an aspiring writer like you? YES! Something I've learned is that it's the little things that determine the greatness. It's the everydays of setting a certain amount of time aside every day for writing, honing the craft, reading books about writing, getting involved with other writers...because as much as we'd like to think that people just sit down and BAM, write a book, it just doesn't happen that way most of the time. Well, the books that change you, anyway. It's stinkin' hard work. It's a craft. It's a love/hate relationship.

    BUT, it's like anything else, if you're willing to pay the price, if you want it bad enough to make it happen, YOU'LL DO IT!

    There's times and seasons for everything, though. I guess it's all about having realistic expectations. I'm 32 with 5 kids, like you. Sometimes life has to come first. It might take longer to write, but it CAN be done. What would a book mean if you sacrificed your family for it, right? Not so great.

    Best of luck! I'm anxious to see your name on a shelf...how great would that be?! It's "in the cards," I'm sure of it!

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  15. I think you definitely have a story worth telling ... you're telling it every day on your blog and you got yourself some loyal readers who can't wait to turn on their computers and read another tale out of your life.

    http://unpublishedworksofme.blogspot.co.uk/

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  16. I came here basically to write Lanette's comment. She said it better than me.

    I think the equation will always be more work than glamour, and there are lots of people who are worthy of publishing who are just "all talk." Sad too. Think of all the good books we could be reading if they could do the work!

    You've got a story, now you just have to be willing to write it.

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  17. I'm already preaching to the choir, it seems, based on everyone else's comments but HELLO - you have a story worth telling. Look how we all dove on your 4 part love story like a thanksgiving turkey.

    You are simultaneously doing both one of the easiest and one of the hardest things any of us could ever imagine. We'd read it, we want to.

    Tell us.

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  18. Yes! I could've written this! :)

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  19. I think you would write an excellent memoir girl. You have a gift of words, and a story most definitely worth telling. Girl. Don't ever think you can't. Because you most certainly can. You're the only one standing in your way. You have a lot of readers who would most definitely be ready and raring to read it :)

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  20. THIS I relate to, Bridge. Writing has always been such a huge part of my identity. Literally as far back as I can remember, as soon as I learned to write, I guess, I knew I wanted to be a "writer," whatever that meant. A story has never stuck with me either, though I really, really long for one. Blogging has really helped to quench that longing, though. We will get there. :)

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  21. Hi! I was randomly passing and saw this post. I say, take a chance on the writing of that memoir.

    The books that have me nodding my head in both agreement and in awe (SHE feels this way TOO? I thought I was the only one!?) inspire me to write, write, write. Those are probably my favorite blog posts to write (and read) too. The ones whose comments look something like, "Yes! I could've written this myself!"

    Those sentences had me nodding, "yep, yep, yep" so you see, you're already doing so well! :)

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talk to me.

(also! if you have a question, check back as i usually answer it here!)

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