Thursday, July 25, 2013

One Day I'll Write This Story

(NOTE: "I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because my right brain can't communicate with my left brain when I'm writing magic. Give it a test drive.)
I got my hair cut today. My hairdresser Nicole is a sweet lady, and prettier than she thinks. Like a great bartender, she knows how to carry on with her clients. We chatter while she attempts to make my mane even, which isn't often easy. She thinks I need short, short hair. I love feeling the weight. Anyway, the visit is enjoyable.

This time, she said THE words: "If I had time, I'd write this book I've had in my mind for a long time."

I smile and listen. She elaborates. It's a children's tale about Bomber Island in our local Lake Murray (my lake) where Purple Martins migrate each  year. You can still find ammo shells on that island, that was used by the Doolittle Raiders in WWII. We have boat cruises as well as personal pontoon ventures each night during the month-long event, loaded with birdwatchers and locals who watch hundreds of thousands of these birds swoop and dance in sync as they settle for each night. It's gorgeous. I won't give her story away, but it's very smart. Also:
  • My friend at Edisto Beach has a story to tell about marital trials, and they are definitely unique.
  • My high school English teacher has a true crime story to tell that would chill your bones.

  • A saleslady in Dillards went on about her legal battle, so anxious to tell others about loopholes in the system.
  • My neighbor is 80, a self-made man who's quite accomplished. His biography is intriguing, and he's trying to find a way to write it.

The list is endless. So many people have remarkable stories, stories that stay in their heads and aren't getting on the paper. Some ask me to write them, the line normally: "When you finish your current book, I have the next one you need to write."

I do not discount their stories. Most are phenomenal, and to those people these stories are important. However, somewhere in their enthusiasm, when they've paused to take a breath, I say: "That's your story to tell, not mine."

That makes them pause. I've respected their story. They've respected my writing ability by asking me to take up their torch. We've made each other happy. The truth is, however, they hold the passion, not me.

A high percentage of these tales (I'd even venture to guess ninety-plus percent) will never be recorded. That saddens me. These stories don't have to be bestsellers. They don't even have to land on bookstore shelves, but these ideas and experiences evaporate as time creeps on, locked in one mind and gone as that life joins others past. Those ideas and experiences vanished for all time.

If you have a story, write it. Leave your mark. 

Make copies and pass them around at Christmas. Post them on your blog. Self-publish if this is a story you want remembered as part your legacy. There's the traditional publishing path via agents and publishers if you're game to understanding the business.

You can be a storyteller without becoming a professional writer. Sure, you can try to publish it for sales, and how glorious if you can sell it and earn a living, but do not lose the opportunity to record your story. Take the effort. Weave the words. Tell the tale.

Frankly, only then will you be able to tell whether writing is your passion, or if this story just needed exorcizing from your mind. Either way, you'll have told the story.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Hope--It's amazing when people hear that a person is a writer...inevitably, a story tumbles out of them, eager to get the writer ignited by the fire that burns in them.

I hope that a bigger percentage of those people get their story down. Everyone--in my opinion--has at least one story to tell...

Kelly Robinson said...

"Not having the time" is no excuse, as we know. There are tons of examples, but since Hugh Howie has turned his self-published e-book series 'Wool' into such a huge bestseller, I love to mention to people that he wrote it on his lunch breaks at work. A little at a time is all it takes -- you just have to DO it.

Hope Clark said...

Just DO it applies to life, period. Thanks Kelly.

And yes, Sioux, everybody has a story. Imagine how many go untold.

Glenda Beall said...

Hope, you are singing my song today. I help senior adults write about their lives for their families, usually, but once in a while someone grabs hold of writing and finds their story is for a larger audience. I have heard the most wonderful stories and urge everyone to write their own story. Each is unique.

Hope Clark said...

So happy to hear that, Glenda. I've tried to get my mother to write stories, but alas, she won't. Yet she loves writing poetry. I got a lot of my writing drive from her.

Val said...

I've been writing my story on various blogs since 2005. Funny how I never run out of things to say. I don't think I would be able to stop.

Hope Clark said...

There you go, Val. Just make sure you save them somewhere in case your blog goes down.

Marylane Wade Koch said...

Hope, I enjoy all your posts but I really LOVE this one. I am sharing with some friends and our writing group.

My gratitude.
Marylane Wade Koch

Hope Clark said...

Wonderful, Marylane. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

I just want to know how to get your book published once you have written one as I have. What do I do next? How did you get published? I love your books and I live right up the road from you in nearby S. C. Lake Murray is a great place. Thanks for your advice. Faye

Hope Clark said...

What is your goal with this book? Do you have one book you wish published or are you seeking to be a writer as a profession? Are you a promoter? Do you already have an online presence? Are you wanting to self-publish or traditionally publish? Are you willing to travel to promote? Do you have the time to handle social media? Who would buy your book and where do you hope to sell it? There are so many questions you need to ask first before you just publish. Email me at but also get your hands on a copy of Writers Market.

Jordan Clary said...

Recordings are also wonderful ways to tell your story, especially these days when they can be downloaded and preserved on the computer--or if someone is doing it 'professionally,' they can be edited into a compelling story. I don't really know how to do this, but I always record interviews for articles and recently I've thought how I wish I had done this when I was younger. What I would give to have my mother's voice telling me about growing up during WWII.

Hope Clark said...

Wouldn't that be nice hearing relatives from long ago? We really should record more stories. Great idea, Jordan.

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