Sunday, April 15, 2012

Some Business

Writing is a tough business. In fact, it’s hardly a business at all if you are the writer. It’s tempting to add "these days" to that, but from what I have read and heard over the years, it hasn’t changed much, or even gotten worse than it was years ago. Just more of it.

My mother was a writer, even published (but never paid) when she was still a young woman. Poetry was her specialty. A dozen or so years ago, when my sister and I were cleaning out the treasurers she left behind, we discovered clips of her published work, as well as rejection slips for work never accepted anywhere. When we were children she made up stories for us, and in her later years she published a brief memoir about her early years as an immigrant from Russia growing up in a small town in North Carolina. Very interesting for her family, and perhaps inspiring for others who might have been given a copy, but her writing never went beyond that.

There are a lot of people with stories to tell, and some of them are gifted tellers of tales. I am part of a small group of writers who meet more-or-less regularly to read to each other, gauge the success of what we are working on, and eventually, when the stars are properly aligned, get published. We are all "seniors" (meaning we are regular recipients of offers from companies that offer discounts if you’re over 50), some more senior than others. Our writings are often directly based on our own lives, or projections of our lives through fictional characters. After all, how better to "write what you know," than to recreate your own life as fiction?

Well, there is a better way for many people, I think: write the truth. If you only write for your friends or family, it is still writing. It is sharing what you have learned over a lifetime. Your story might even influence a young relative or friend to pursue (or not) a lifestory line of his or her own. When our daughter was very young I often told her: "You may be the one who changes the world. Or you may change the one who changes the world. Or the one who changes the one who changes the one who changes the world."

That isn’t to say that every personal story will have meaning beyond your immediate family or circle. Most likely it will not. Still, one never knows (and often never lives long enough to find out) what influences another person. We all have stories. We all have lives. We can all tell stories. The stories we tell are a part of what makes up the world we all share.

Your story may change the one who changes the world.

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