“EVERY STORY HAS A PLACE IT BELONGS. Lucky, the writer content to help it find its way.” That’s what my friend Marilyn wrote this week as she lamented the urge to always turn an idea into a book or to judge success by statistics.
“I worry about writers feeling like failures because they haven’t attained some goal measurable only by numbers, which are a tool but can be a major distraction from the care and feeding of that with which we’ve been entrusted,” Marilyn writes.
I feel it too: the pressure to turn every simple moment of my day into something sacred or significant or hysterical on the page. The other night on the phone, my mother gasped as I told her about a story I’m writing that features her in a bathing suit. There are no photos, I should have mentioned. But still. And how many times have I said to my husband, “Oh, by the way, I wrote about you today.” And he’s gracious and we have this general agreement about what I should run by him first. But still.
For someone who writes personal essays, I have a wide berth in my life about what I will or won’t write about. But sometimes, even I draw the line, like this week when I wrote about making progress with my wardrobe because there was other progress in my life I just wasn’t able to write about.
“So, you’ve been writing about your word of the week for two years now and you are just now getting to ‘progress’?” my youngest stepson Jacob asked at dinner a few nights ago. We laughed, because he had a point. Progress seems like one of those things you want to start seeing right from the beginning.
But still. When it comes to our stories, the point isn’t always progress. We don’t always have to be working toward something bigger and better. Sometimes. it’s presence we should be after. Living in the moment of the story and sharing it with just a person or two. Or writing it in a journal as a prayer and leaving it there.
Maybe that’s where your story belongs.
And if I haven’t mentioned them here already, here are two great resources for people who like to writes stories — regardless of where they end up.
Photo by Breather via Unsplash.