I have an interesting story to tell.
A good friend told me this the other day and for the first time I believed this of myself. I’ve spent much of my adult life telling other people’s stories, learning and writing about what made them interesting to read for cities in Texas, Kansas, and Louisiana. And finally someone has noticed that my story was at least as interesting as the folks I wrote about.
The person who told me this was my very good friend and a friend to the site, Ashley Northington. She guest blogged on the site over a year ago and gave us some insight to book launching.
So if Ashley says I have a story to tell, then I do. I’ll be telling that during the Dream Fest Digital conference in November. Ashley has invited me to speak to tell my story and I am so thrilled to do so. (More info when the date comes closer, including how you can participate!)
My story isn’t a Cinderella tale, that chick has nothing on me. It’s a story about dreaming, crashing, burning, and stubbornness. It’s about walking through fire, facing your own demons and figuring out how to win against them, even if you can’t. Above all, it’s about survival. Scrappy with a shank in your hair survival.
Sounds interesting? Not as interesting as living it.
I have a couple of weeks to solidify what I will say to the world but what about you? What’s your story?
Writers have the best stories. We just do. It’s kinda our thing. We are the keepers, creators, and tellers of the human condition but, often our stories aren’t told.
That’s why so much of our work is autobiographical. Even fiction writers. (We tend to put everyone we know in a story eventually.) Because even just a sliver of truth belongs to us.
So, I’m asking you, writer…what is your story? Is it also one of survival? Triumph? Pain?
Writer, do you know why I’m really asking these questions? Because I want to know, and I want you to know, the answer to this question:
Why do you write?
Yes, I’m speaking to purpose. Why do you do this? And no, the answer is not just simply because I can’t NOT write. That’s a given. Why. Do. You. Write?
Chris Abani, the amazing writer, had this writing group during a conference a couple of years back. I was in grad school at the time and we shared space with the conference. At lunch, a large group of writers would sit next to me at the table, their eyes like the inside of a watermelon. They were sniffling and some were still crying.
“What’s wrong,” I asked concerned.
“Chris Abani asked us why we write,” one of the said.
“Okay. So what’s wrong with that?”
“It was bullshit. He kept saying bullshit until we finally got down to the real reasons.”
That was scary but damn if I wasn’t jealous. While they all looked like they were drained from the tears, they looked light, liberated from whatever was weighing them down. They looked ready to do the work. Darn straight I was jealous because I wanted to be that liberated, that in touch and in tune with my purpose.
Because purpose is everything. It’s the game AND the game changer. It is the and all stories. You ain’t got purpose, you ain’t story. Period.
Since then, I’ve done my own crying and soul searching and dragging. Last year, I broke down at my own writing workshop. I stopped writing for more than a month. I created space for Afro-Latina writers. I wrote about the darkness, embraced it, gave it a kiss and put it on paper. I flirted with death time and time again and inked my demise. There was more crying and soul searching and soul hearing. And more until there was purpose.
I write because I want my humanity acknowledged. I want to be seen. I want to be heard. I want the world to know I was here and existed and I had something to say.
Note: that doesn’t mean that I am seeking acceptance. That’s not my purpose. It’s nice but not my purpose.
See, that’s why Ashley said I had an interesting story to tell. And I do. Just you wait.
What’s your story, writer? Why do you do this? Why do you write?
For your first answer, whatever that may be, I call bullshit. Try again. Dig deeper. It’s good for you.
Dig, writer. Don’t make me get Chris Abani to come for you.