I wrote a novel. It’s beautiful and flawed and has so many hands and hearts invested in the words on its pages from friends and teachers and fellow writers who read and critiqued and gave feedback throughout the ten years it took me to learn how to write a novel.
Then there was that one person who said out loud what the critic in my head had been whispering for years. “It’s about what? You? Who’d want to read about you?”
At the time, I was shamed into silence. It wasn’t just my inner critic who was asking. It was someone I’d known my whole life.
And now? Now that the novel is a cover away from being published, I do have an answer to “Who’d want to read about you?” I would. I would want to read about me. And the reason for that? If I don’t matter, then I don’t have anything to offer the world and I can’t pretend that you matter either.
We had a whole election won on whom to exclude, whom to condemn, and whom to fear. Because if people don’t believe they matter, then they have to fight others to get theirs. If I matter, I speak up, I channel my anger productively, and I’m not afraid to extend goodwill to others. There is enough to go around because everyone brings something to the table. People who don’t believe their stories matter also don’t bring their gifts to the table.
How much do we lose by people not knowing or owning what they bring to the world? What do you bring to the world? What do friends say that you do in the way that just you do it that make their and others’ lives better? When you own it, you amplify it, and there are people who need to hear your story in order to see themselves as someone who matters too.
My favorite stories are those that are true. Many websites have prompts to get started, but my all-time favorite prompt includes stories that start from, “You’ll never believe what just happened.” I love hearing students tell their own stories like that. I love it even more when they write those stories down and share them with peers and family who otherwise would never get to hear those stories.
Because something magical happens when you write it down. Not only is the story there available for others when you aren’t available share it yourself, but when you write down your story, the story takes on a reflective quality. There are aspects to the story that are deeper than the first time you casually mentioned it to a friend, and that deeper quality reflects the still and deeper nature of life. That is what resonates with everyone. I see me somewhere in there, in your fearlessness, your grief, your joy, or your what-was-I-thinking mistakes, and that connects me to you and to life.
So who’d want to read about me? I would. And who’d want to read about you? I would. I want to read about the light that you shine as I read it in your story. That is what inspires me to go on. Because I have that light configured differently in me, and it can be scary out there among people who believe that their stories don’t matter. In that way, I don’t just want to read your story, I need to read it. I’ve already read mine, so what is your story that has its genesis in “You’ll never believe…?” Ready, set, go….
For more about the novel and my workshop on helping students find out why they matter, go to JessieDorin.com