In my last post, I hinted at a new adventure. A few weeks ago, the adventure officially began with StoryCraft, my new business focused on your story, better. I wanted to take an opportunity here to ramble on a bit about it all.
My childhood dream, the real fantasy that may or may not come true one day, was to become a writer. After reading Harriet the Spy, I was sold on the idea of writing, writing a lot, writing what I saw. My piles and piles of journals, even after losing ten years of them, attest to that. I’ve read many books about writing: Writing Down the Bones, Bird by Bird, and The Artist’s Way have all had their turn. You’d expect a novel to be hiding somewhere….
But there isn’t one. I’m one of those people who feels they don’t have much to write about, just an urgent need to write. So I write what I’d freely describe as nonsense. Although lately I’ve tried to write far more entertaining nonsense. That can be a skill, too.
Those who aren’t going to write will certainly read and I read a lot. A couple years ago I started a book club with a friend and have found joy in discussing books with friends again. While the kids were young and mobile, reading was harder, but nursing was great reading time and now I’m working hard to turn them both into just as voracious readers as I am. Ironically, my son’s now the one who could end up grounded from books because he tries to do everything with a book nearby – getting dressed in the morning, putting on pajamas, staying up until 10pm reading in bed. I read a lot of literary fiction. I love classics and have been known to return to Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë when life is more than I can bear. Over the past five years or so, I’ve tried to read more non-fiction.
Non-fiction surprised me with its pure readability at times. Malcom Gladwell is great. Siddartha Muckherjee’s book on cancer is long, intense, and an immersive read. Reading more non-fiction broadened my horizons in terms of knowledge and interest. The surprising side effect was that I demand more of my fiction now. If I’m not going to learn anything factual, then the writing had better be top notch or I’m much more likely to put a book aside.
Through all this, I’ve had to rewrite my story time and time again. Every few years, I seem to be living a different life. The country changes, the language changes, I got married, I had kids, I had one job, I had another. In every situation, there are new people who want to know who I am. While I worked at the University talking to new international staff, I saw that my story made a stronger impression on people than my CV. 20 years living abroad mattered less than a story about how I made sure my daughter could see a doctor in the Netherlands on the weekend. After hearing that, they believed I knew what I was talking about.
There is tremendous power in knowing how to tell your story and tell it well. It gives you control of your own past. It gives you a stronger hand in shaping your future. I want to share that. I want people to be able to communicate with each other across cultural, academic, and personal gaps large and small. Often, doing this requires finding the structure, the right language, and the right details to make a story work. That I can do. I want to do it.
So far, I’ve given a few workshops at the University and worked with a couple people one-on-one. I’m in a phase of figuring out who I am in this story and building a foundation for StoryCraft. I’m looking for clients. It requires putting myself out in the world in a way I’m not used to. It’s scary. It’s discouraging. It’s tempting to stop.
Last night it occurred to me that putting my personal story out there here would help me. I’ve found a lot of support in readers and comments here. It also feels good to put my story out there. So here you go. I hope you’ll visit StoryCraft at StoryCraft.nl. If you like what you see and can think of someone who might be interested, please share it. If you have tips for me, please let me know. It’s tempting to not embark on this right now, to turn my little around and sail right back into a safe harbor. But I think it’s better to keep going, better to keep writing this story.