Connecting with your story

When we tell a story, whether orally or in writing, in order to tell it well, we need a good connection to it. This is one of the sides of the story triangle I have already written about. How do you connect to the story you are about to write or already writing?

A woman came to me who asked me the following question: “Can you help me with my writing? I start books but never seem to be able to finish them. Many people have told me I am a talented writer, but I don’t seem to be able to finish anything.” A ten minute exchange and a little intuition enabled me to quickly establish what the missing link was: passion and purpose. She did it because someone told her she was good at it, and I can hazard a guess that she picked a story that seemed interesting but had no emotional or intellectual connection to it.

Let me give an example of what I mean by emotional or intellectual connection to a story. In one of my recent blogs, I told the story of this woman whose husband left her for a younger woman and who was a mother of seven kids. And how she wanted to be in a relationship but the odds were against her. And yet she found love at first sight in a supermarket after bumping into a man, as their trolleys collided. This is a true story and I am very tempted to actually get on and write the story. Why? It connects with me emotionally. I divorced and had to rebuild my life with two small children, and when I shared my aspiration to find a new relationship, a well meaning friend said to me “at your age and with two kids, you had better not be too picky”. I nearly strangled him. No need to say we are no longer friends. I was only thirty six then. Thirty six is young. I’d like to think you can find love at any age. I once read in a paper about a couple who met in a retirement home and got married at 85. Now that’s what I want to hear.

I am sharing this because you can immediately see why this woman’s story speaks to me. She was well into her fifties, had seven kids and found true love. I was thirty six and had two kids and found true love. But her story was more inspiring than mine. Every woman whose relationship breaks up, needs hope that her romantic life is not over, whatever her age. So I have an emotional connection to it. I am also intellectually connected to it. I am a feminist at heart and I hate the idea that anyone would think that a woman with seven kids in her fifties might not be desirable or lovable. That really incenses the women’s right activist in me.

But you might have no connection to it at all. You might read about her and it stirs nothing in you but a vague intellectual ripple. If that’s the case my advice would be: don’t even come near it. Just like the woman above, you might never finish it. You need something to get you through the writing of 60,000 odd words. It’s a lot of energy and steam you need to gather. You need passion about your subject and a bigger picture to motivate you.

To your creativity,

Ange de Lumiere


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