When I’m enthralled by a good speaker or a great book, it’s usually because I’m being told an intriguing story. I love a good story. As humans, story is one of our most powerful tools of communication. A good story gives us new perspective, helps us gain understanding, lets us know we’re not alone, and passes along tradition and familial heritage.
One of the powers inherent in writing is being able to voice what can be difficult for other people to share. It takes courage to be that voice—an opening of vulnerability. We tend to present a clean public face so sharing our struggles, our real selves, is a hard thing to do. We think if we shared our true selves with the world in all our glorious mess, the people who read it would agree with our deepest fear: we are not worth knowing. Yet when we write honestly, we touch deeply and affect the lives of our readers for the better.
I’ve often been asked how I can share so publicly my struggles, my questions, and even my pain. It’s a question I’ve asked myself and it’s a struggle every time I publish. It feels scary to share that much of myself with no control over who reads it. But if I don’t share, that story’s light stays hidden and I feel it is my place as a writer to say what other people leave unsaid. Someone needs to say, “I’ve been there. I understand.” It always amazes me how my struggles mean far more to people than the writing happier in tone.
We each have more stories to tell than we’ll ever know and there’s more power in them than we realize. Whether we’re writing our biography, a memoir, or non-fiction, there are people who need to hear what we have to say. Our stories are bigger than ourselves; they take on a life of their own and teach the people who read them.