You Have a Story and the Story is You

I’ve been following a very interesting on-going dialogue within a writer’s group on Linkedin,  a social media website.  The question was asked by one of the participants if we writers felt that we should bring any of our childhood memories  into our writing.   My immediate reaction was, how is it possible not to?  We are our memories.  We are what we’ve lived through –  every person we’ve met, every decision we’ve made, every experience we’ve had, every good, bad and ugly act we’ve committed.  To try to keep all of that past, all of those memories, out of our writing would, I think, be impossible.   And why would we want to?  Each of us is a unique human being,  and yet we are Everyman.  We have our own special stories about our unique experiences, and yet our fears, hopes, dreams and needs are not unique.  It seems to me that authors  touch the hearts and minds of a lot more readers when we offer up part of ourselves through our characters.

That thought brings me to my real message here, which I try to incorporate into the conclusion of every presentation I give about my books.

The first part of that  message to my audiences is the importance  of  journaling on a fairly regular basis.  There’s  an easy seguey into that for me because the protagonists journal in both of my novels.  Why?  Because it helps them get in touch with their feelings, and that’s a healthy, positive thing for all of us to do.  Through journaling, my characters help resolve their conflicts.  In fact, in a recent study about that very point,  researchers found that not only does journaling help us resolve problems, work through our disappointments and fears and increase happiness when we write about good experiences, it also delays dementia.  Now how good is that?

So, journaling is important for our mental health.  If you don’t journal, try it now.  Simply write what’s on your mind.  And do it thoughtlessly.  Just get down what you’re feeling.  Let it all out.  Bask in the joy or fear or sorrow and then set it aside.  In a day or two or three, maybe, go back to what you wrote and see how you feel about that entry.  How far have you come in those days or that week? Do you feel better, worse, the same?  Have you progressed?  Has it awakened anything inside you?

The second part of the message is that there is no greater legacy you can leave behind with the people you love the most than your own personal story.  Each of our lives is unique.  Each of us is a special gift.  And your own very special story is a part of history and something that needs to be recorded and passed on.  Journaling now will help you create that story when you’re ready.  Just make sure that you begin it before it’s too late.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard friends say that they are so sorry that their parents’ or grandparents’ stories are lost forever because no one took the time to help write the memories. Or they had the time but just couldn’t get started.   I’ve also had older friends tell me that they would like to tell their stories to their families now, but their memories and facts about their lives have faded away.  It’s too late for them.  How sad.   I had the great privilege of helping my mother record her memories of her unique life for the rest of our family.  It was an incredible, eye-opening, cleansing  journey that we took together.  And it was one that would have been such a shame to have missed.

So get going.  Start today.  Record those emotions in a book that will become your Journal.  Acknowledge and accept what you are feeling.  It will be healthy for you.  Then once you have the hang of it, begin writing that story of yours that will begin coming together through your Journal.   You’ll be so glad, once you’ve started the process, and so will your children and grandchildren and their families.  Remember:  you are unique; you have a story to tell, and the story is you.

Let me know how you do:;  About.Me/pennySlauer








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