With all the writing I do about stories, I feel like a Sally One Note. I apologize. If you don’t feel like reading my writing about writing again, please proceed to the nearest exit. There will be something not about writing at some point. I encourage you to keep coming back and checking in.
Anybody left? Oh, good. Ah, all…2 of you. Fantastic. Now, before we proceed any further, watch this video. It provides some context for what I’m going to say…or maybe it just kind of sparked it, I don’t know. But you should watch it anyway.
All 1 of you back? Great. Thanks for reading, friend.
Dorothy Allison says, “I wanted to break the heart of the world and heal it.” This line gives me chills. The way she spoke in general had me mesmerized, left me with goosebumps. That lady is intense. Before hearing this and relying on Google to tell me who she was, I had never heard of her. She’s the author of Bastard Out of Carolina, which I haven’t read, but have heard about in that it’s intense. Even before I knew this, though, I could tell: this woman gets it. She is a woman with a story. The way she talks. The way she says things. The way I can feel my heart tugging in my chest—she means every single word she’s saying. She is a powerful woman. A woman with a story.
We all have fault lines and cracks in our lives, and therefore in our stories. Dorothy Allison also says, “I wanted more out of story—I wanted something large out of story.” We reach that “something large” through walking to the broken parts and peering in. Through taking others to our broken places. The broken places in us are the broken places of the world: my breaking splits open the corresponding crack in the Earth. When we story our lives—our hills and valleys and earthquakes and deserts—we undoubtedly make something large. There is no way we cannot. By storying, we are choosing to throw a shovelful of dirt over the crack. When we story our lives, we are healing the world. There is no way that cannot be large. It’s huge, and it’s necessary.
“But mostly,” Dorothy Allison says, “I want to be a story that reaches people. The way you do. The way you do.”
I want to be a story because stories matter. They reach people. They crawl into your heart, or soak into your skin, or infiltrate your bloodstream and circulate your body and stay there. I want my story to touch people so they can stand a little straighter. Love a little deeper. Connect a little more easily. I want the story of my life to make people go to the edge of the depth, look inside, and do whatever it is they do with more intensity, more love, more passion. Maybe they dance. Maybe they love their children. Maybe they advocate in big cities to high ranking people for something that makes them feel alive, or maybe they advocate about something that makes them die inside again and again and again. I have no plans of doing big things. I just want to live life quietly, out loud, in a voice that makes skeptics shiver and take cover. I want to be a story that matters in a way you can’t explain that still leaves you feeling full, tired, and changed. Uncomfortable, perhaps. I want to be the story that matters so much, you retell it to your friends and family. Perhaps it touches your story, and so you write it, and the torch is passed.
I want to take you to and be taken to the cracks in the heart of the world, and I want us to love them. I want to paint murals in the debris and make stone soup with the leftovers. I want to be a story that matters and I want to hold your story and love it in its broken intensity and wholeness. Just like you do. Just the way you do.