It Takes a Village to Bring a Story to Life

Village1I never read Hillary Clinton’s book, It Takes a Village, but the title stuck with me, and in recent months I’ve realized how relevant it is to writing, especially life writing.

Last week I shared a story with a writing group and received several ideas for ways to improve it. This morning as I prepared to revise the draft, I had a moment of brilliant clarity, realizing that:

I would never keep writing if I had to do it alone. Yes, the act of transferring words from mind to paper requires a certain degree of isolation, but without feedback from others and the hope of eventual readers, I would be soon lose interest.

I learn from the examples of others. My writing continues to evolve and develop as I read and critique stories written by others. Beyond that, my understanding of life and the human spirit grows and evolves as I read an endless variety of life stories and memoirs, especially in groups.

My best writing results from collaboration. My recent experience polishing The Heart and Craft of Writing Compelling Description dispelled any doubt about this. The keen eyes of numerous writing buddies kept me from embarrassing myself and inspired improvement in the material between those covers. And so it will be with the story I mentioned earlier.

My village makes things happen. Call it a village, call it a tribe. In our new age of indie publishing, writing villagers band together to trumpet the news of new arrivals they help deliver. Villagers write reviews. They host guest posts. They tweet.

Sharing stories build bonds. Whether it’s a long-term group like the Monroeville Library Life Writers, a class lasting a few weeks, or an online forum, people who share stories care about each other. Nothing bridges gaps of different backgrounds, ethnic and national origins, religion, gender and other culturally imposed boundaries faster than sharing stories. Stories move from heart to heart, evoking strong levels of compassion and caring.

Story knows no boundaries. Today stories travel around the globe with something approaching the speed of thought. Yesterday I read heart-grabbing stories written by people living in Iraq, Egypt, Romania,  and England and exchanged emails with writer friends in England, Israel and Australia. Someone in Japan ordered my book. I will never meet these people face-to-face, but we know each other as our hearts touch through shared stories.

I am part of a vibrant, thriving writing village. Many of my fellow villagers are working on book manuscripts. Those books will be stronger and more polished, and they will be read more widely because of the help and input of others in the village. Some write for the sheer joy and challenge of doing so, and to create a legacy of personal and family history for their families. In either case, the village is a safe place to hone skills, unravel personal mysteries, and find cheerleaders to keep our fingers flying.

This village can change the world. As stories build bonds, they feed a growing awareness that “what happens to one, happens to all.” They bring a sense of urgency and personal involvement to every corner of the globe. Just as pendulum clocks standing against a shared wall begin to tick in unison, so hearts bonded by story entrain and unite. Soon, I hope very soon, Story People of the global writing village will collectively cry out, ENOUGH ALREADY! And nightmares of oppression will finally end.

Write now: Let YOUR story be heard. Join a writing group, locally or online – or both (use the gadget in the sidebar to join the free Life Writers’ Forum). Email copies of stories to friends and family. Submit to anthologies or local papers. Start a writing group at your library, church, senior center or other community location. (Send me an email and ask for a free copy of my facilitator guide for starting these groups). However, wherever, let your story be heard!


Sherrey Meyer said...

Sharon,this is a heartwarming post of what the writing community we belong to is all about. I can't imagine not having connected online with the writers I have, you included. We enjoy support, encouragement, motivation, inspiration and yes, the aid of other sets of eyes when needed. A bonus in the writing world is a village, or a tribe, whatever you want to call it. Could not write without one!

Sharon said...

Thank you Sherrey. You are a good neighbor!

SuziCate said...

We often forget how much story connects is truly the emotional bonding that glues us through these common circumstances in which we live.

Sharon said...

Yes, it's easy to overlook the way we attribute story based on appearance to people we know nothing about, and sharing stories is the way we stay in touch. Life is story!