Once upon a time there was a little curly haired 5 year old girl who loved books. She could get lost for hours just sitting and reading stories about talking animals, princesses and princes. She read at an early age because she had an older sister, so when her sister would come home from school and practice her reading, she would sit next to her and learn, too.
Then one day she found out that books didn’t just magically appear on the shelves of the stores or as gifts for birthdays and holidays. Someone actually had to write the stories and make the books. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “You mean people get to do this like a job?” she asked her mother? The little girl thought that it would have to be the best job in the whole world to make up such wonderful stories and then make a book out of them for other little girls to read.
For the rest of her life, the little girl worked at writing her stories. As she got older she read all of the “How To” books on writing and studied her favorite authors. She fell in love with poetry and mysteries, and stories of people who went after their dreams. She tried to write like her favorite authors wrote, but she just wasn’t feeling what she thought she should feel when she went back and read what she had written. All of her teachers would tell her: “write what you know.” What did she know? She hadn’t even begun to live her life yet. What was she to do?
What she did was to live her life. She got married, had children, and found ways to work writing into some of the jobs she had. She wrote advertising copy, public relations articles, press releases, newsletters, etc. She even wrote some book reviews for the local branch of the library in her city. It was all well and good, but she still didn’t feel it. Her teachers told her she needed to find her voice.
Fast forward many years later. Her children were grown and gone. She was divorced and living on her own. She picked up and moved to a small town where people smiled at you on the street, and everyone knew your name, and shared recipes over the back fence. She was so touched by the kindness of the people that she wrote a little article about her experiences and submitted it to the local weekly penny saver. They printed the story. She received all kinds of thanks from people she didn’t even know, an invitation to lunch, and was asked to address the local historical society about how she felt about the town. She was encouraged to submit more work to the paper. Finally, she had found her voice. She had written about what she knew. She had written about her own life. She created it on paper and it was so.
We are the authors of our own stories. Our voice is the only one that is true and authentic. I’m not saying that everyone needs to sit down and start churning out personal essays. Words have power, and they are even more powerful when we put them on paper. There they are, staring back at us from the paper or screen, in black and white. The question we have to ask ourselves at that point is: are they really true, or are they what we believe is true?
Life coach Tony Robbins teaches us that if you don’t like the story you’re telling yourself, write another story. Give those words power. You can sit down and create the life you want to live and then make it your own. That is what this website and this blog is all about… writing a life. We can use the power of words to set intentions, and then set them free into the world to become our authentic lives. We can give them their true voice.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll look at different ways that we can use writing to create a life we love. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we’ll also take a look at both memoir writing and using stories as teaching tools to reach others. I’m really excited to be starting on this new journey and I hope you will be, too. I look forward to hearing your comments and your own experiences with using the power of words to create an authentic life. Until then, peace and blessings!