Lately we have had a lot of great events at Adventures by the Book™ that have reminded us the importance of story telling. There are moments in each of our lives that shape us. As lovers of literature, we are used to reading great epics that contain life-altering, shocking moments that define the main character. In truth, these kinds of rattling scenarios are part of what make great fiction. However, real life is not often like that of our favorite narratives, because life doesn't end where the book does. Reality makes us face all the nitty-gritty details that come after "Happily Ever After".
All these particulars of our lives can make the very idea of writing down our story seem completely dumbfounding. We ask ourselves, "How could I possibly put my whole life into words?", or "Why would anyone want to read about my life?" These, of course, are valid questions.
What a blessing it is to keep a journal, your own personal and unedited memoir. As the years pass and that "older & wiser" thing starts to creep in you are lucky enough to have bound pages detailing not only the event, but also your feelings. It is this retention of feelings, however, that can make rereading a journal not always the simplest of tasks. Memories healed by time may resurface and things we thought we had always known may be challenged; time seems to make us forget all of our early naivete.
It was our speaker Maureen Cavanaugh that got me thinking on this topic of story telling. She implored our audience to ask themselves "Why?", instead of just "Who? What? Where?" when going to write their tale. "Why am I writing this story?" Though Maureen was speaking of a type of story iteration geared towards an audience, I think her question can resonate with even the most novice writer.
Most of us will not write an award-winning memoir, but many of us will write. We will feel compelled by something within us to take a pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and give our memories a tangible outlet. Even though we may not directly ask ourselves "Why?" there is always something driving us to write. Maybe it is a necessary catharsis for us to vent, to purge our feelings on a page. Maybe we write so that we remember. Maybe we write so that others will remember. Maybe we just write to understand.
Whatever the reason, stories are meant to be told, even when we retell them to ourselves. You may think you know your own story, but it is paramount to remember that in this self-telling often the important aspects of an occurrence are revealed. You may suddenly find yourselves realizing you have lived through your climatic moments and well into "Happily Ever After".
That's the thing about real life though, there is always another chapter to be written and it is up to you to ask yourself, "Why do I want to write my story?"