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Telling Our Story

May 4, 2011

When I made the decision to take  my desire to write more seriously, I signed up for a class at Writer’s Online Workshop sponsored by Writer’s Digest, a website that seems to have morphed into Writer’s Digest University.  An early online class, it took place in a cyber class and the students benefited from personal critiques of the assignments by the teacher who herself was a published writer. I was fortunate to have a teacher who appreciated my work and didn’t mind saying so. The first time she said “you need to published this” I crumbled into a heap on the floor and cried. Once I overcame the shock, her words and belief in me were all it took to set me off and running.

The article I wrote for the class was “Caring for Mom”, and it was, to my amazement subsequently published in numerous Senior newspapers and magazines around the country and is still, as you see, on-line. It became the title of my first book and started me on an adventure of a lifetime.

I didn’t make a fortune, but I was paid for my writing for the very first time. A copy of the check remains on my bulletin board as a reminder that anything is possible.  It was a special moment in my life, not because of the money, (although that’s always nice!) but because I wrote and people listened. I wrote from my heart and it seemed to matter to someone else.

I did not create that article out of nothing. I created it by telling of my story. It was the only way I knew how to write. The class was on magazine article writing and while the rest of the class was busy researching and writing about things like gardening and raising dogs, I was feeling inadequate and clueless. I couldn’t think of anything I knew much about, nor did I care much for research. Just thinking about it shut of my creative instincts and drive.  I was in a quandary and quite certain I was on the path to proving myself a failure as a writer.

The night before the assignment was due, I still didn’t know what I was going to write about. I had just returned home from a weekend of caring for my aging mother. I was worn out and struggling with family dynamics that were percolating in my brain. How could I be creative and find the spark I needed to write my assignment?

I cloistered myself in my room with my laptop and just began to write. What came out was my story of caring for Mom. When I was done I thought, oh, well, no more time. I’ll just have to submit and take the heat. It was what was on my mind and in my heart and there was nothing else I could have written in that moment.

I learned a valuable lesson that night , one I too often forget.  We are our stories and they may just be the most valuable asset we have to offer to others. We may not have all the answers to life’s most perplexing problems, but we have ourselves and our stories and in sharing them we might just be gently weaving a new thread into the fabric of another person’s life.

Who are we, if we are not our stories, for they are the sum total of the choices we have made and refused to make, the love we have shared, and lost and withheld. They are the lines and creases of joy and sadness on our face, the shape of our smile and the look in our eye.  As we continue to write the story of our life, owe it to ourselves and to the world to set it free. Perhaps, just perhaps, that is what eternal life is all really about.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. vicki permalink
    May 4, 2011 9:28 pm

    i’m so glad you chose to take your writing seriously, dorothy! what a lovely piece. i especially like the final paragraph and the line: “They are the lines and creases of joy and sadness on our face, the shape of our smile and the look in our eye.” thank you, vicki 🙂
    p.s. i also read and loved “caring for mom”. 🙂

  2. May 4, 2011 9:43 pm

    Thanks Vicki! Can we ever hear enough nice things?? 🙂 I appreciate it from the bottom of my toes! 🙂

  3. May 4, 2011 9:49 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. You are so right! I use to do a lot of speaking where I told my story. I am just now beginning to write at a very late age in life. Keep up the good work!

  4. May 6, 2011 9:11 pm

    Dorothy –

    You have such a wonderful way with words and expressing yourself. I am totally enjoying each new article that you are posting. Every one of them seems to resonate something within myself and I can identify with what you are writing of. Thank you for sharing yourself and your stories. May you have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! ^_^

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