Sharing Our Stories

Why do we women find it so hard to believe that we have good stories to tell?

It amazes me when I hear people say, "I have nothing interesting to write," when I know for a fact that each one of us has hundreds of memorable moments to look back upon. Putting those moments down on paper to share with others is a gift of immense value. 

Last week, our ladies writing circle, The Queen's Quillers, met for the first time. We were an eclectic blend of writers with unique lives and experiences, including an ESL teacher and a painter. Our oldest guest, a woman in her 80s, began the workshop expressing that she did not have the talent as a writer to contribute as much as the rest of us. 

With a pen in her hand, she seemed hesitant to write. And after our first writing exercise, she apologized for the quality of her work. The apology was not needed, of course, because what she had written was far better than she gave herself credit for. But the real beauty emerged when she began to talk about her life. 

The rest of us listened, totally enamored, as she recalled taking horseback riding lessons nearly fifty years ago, when her family was missing a recently married daughter. She also spoke lovingly of her daughter's attributes as she told this story, and I was touched by her endearing comments.

The real story is in our voices, you see, if we would only listen.

When we put a pen in our hand or sit down at the keyboard, we suddenly fear failure. We become nervous and unsure, certain that what we have to write is not of great value. But if we could come to the place of understanding that every memory we hold dear is a powerful story, then we could unleash the writer within.

Women, especially, are in danger of selling themselves short. We are, after all, the holders of the best stories: stories of parents, grandparents, children; wars and rumors of wars; presidents and school plays. Each of us could write novels upon novels of the lives we have lived, and how those lives have intertwined with our loved ones and the world around us.

It is not our accolades and accomplishments that make us great storytellers. It is in remembering when Grandma Hazel peeled a double-yolk Easter egg, when Dad bought me a pair of Lee jeans and red leg warmers so I would fit in with the other girls in 7th grade, when my younger brother got hit in the back with a firecracker, and when my mother made vegetable beef soup in her black, speckled roasting pan.  It is remembering the day I met my beautiful sister, the day my sophomore English teacher gave me permission to do a project on Madonna, and the day my older brother defended me on the school bus. These are not earth-shattering events, but they are my stories.

What are yours?