“People are hungry for stories.”
I just spent a wonderful evening with my lovely friend, CJ, who told me about some volunteer work that she is doing with Afghan women. She’s helping them learn English, which is no easy task, since many of them can’t read or write in their own language. I know CJ’s helping these courageous women struggling to begin a new life not just through what she’s teaching them, but because she’s listening to them as they work through the language barrier and share part of their lives with her.
As CJ was talking, we both began thinking about the idea that each of these women has a story to tell, if only someone will take the time to listen. And of course, this is true for us all. We are each a living story. And all around us, there are stories waiting to be brought into the world.
I remember reading a comment by the wonderful Canadian author Gabrielle Roy that her job as a writer was to listen to the characters clamoring inside her and give them voices. So often we think that what we do is complex and sometimes it is. But it’s also simple: we need to listen, not just with our ears, but with an open heart. And when we do, we’ll find stories both within us and outside us.
Let’s learn to listen more deeply and attentively for the voices clamoring to be heard. The chance remark overheard on a train, a friend’s tale of a son struggling to find his way, a news item, a novel with an intriguing subplot: any or all of these can trigger a story idea that can lead to something wonderful. Write on!