I sat up tall in the chair, elbows resting on the desk as I soaked in every word. I leaned in close, hoping to maybe catch the magic of each phrase and bottle it up for later.
“You each have a story to tell,” the professor said. He wasn’t flashy, like some of my other professors. He didn’t bring in a clunky keyboard, like my Latin professor, and make up quirky songs about the Greek gods.
He didn’t come to class dressed as Chaucer and recite The Canterbury Tales for twenty minutes like my Lit professor.
No, this man was different. He was a writer, and he had the aura of one. He was cool and laid back, with a sharp wit and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He leaned on the podium and looked at us, one at a time.
“You have a story to tell,” he said again. “And that story is only yours.”
That was a long time ago. A loooooong time ago.
It took me thirteen years, and several drafts to write my story – my first story. Because as soon as one story ends, another begins. In between all that storytelling, you see, is a whole lot of living, and life breeds story.
When I finished my novel, I wondered if I would ever find another story to tell. For several months, I thought I’d used up all my words. It was about this time that my blog began to die, and swirling inside all of that was a healing heart after a terminated adoption.
I had to fall into the heartache for a bit so the wound could scab over. Did it heal? Yes, I believe it did.
But there’s still a mark.
Scars are stories, though, aren’t they? I have scars on my knee that tell of a young girl who could swing the parallel bars…until she landed wrong and tore her ACL. It’s a story, and it’s all mine.
It’s been two years since I finished my novel, and in that time I’ve also written a non-fiction book, a couple of short stories, and lots of online words. But I wanted a new story to tell. And I was getting impatient.
In the last month, I’ve felt the tickling sensation of an idea formulating. It likes to prick at me late at night, usually when I’m tired, and I want nothing more than to crawl up in bed with a cup of hot tea and Netflix. At first I tried ignoring it, but then I remembered this is what I was waiting for.
So I recorded it.
Chicken scratches on a scrap piece of paper next to my bed may very well hold the key to my next story. It’s relieving to know there’s more to come. I’m not finished typing words just yet.
But life is hectic. There are so many small people running around my house, it makes my head spin. Half the time little people who don’t even belong to me are here! So I’m fitting the storytelling into the cracks of my day, and in the larger chunks of time I’m choosing to live.
Because life – with all its hectic hilarity, all its pain and confusion, all its joy and laughter, all this smashed up living inside four walls – breeds story.
[Tweet “So first I’ll live the story, and then I’ll tell it, because a story cannot be forced.”]
You have a story to tell, too.
Maybe you don’t desire to write a book. That’s okay. I don’t blame you. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a story worth telling.
All of mankind, every bit of the history that tells us who we are, and from where we came, is built on story. Consider this my podium moment as I lean in close and look you in the eye.
You have a story to tell, and that story is only yours. You live your story every day, and it holds weight in this world.
So live your story, and then tell it.
Write it in a journal, on a blog, or on the walls of your home. Tell it with the lens of your camera, or with a video camera strapped to your wrist.
Life is happening right now, all around you. Everywhere you turn, life is waiting to be observed and recorded, and you have a perspective that no one else shares.