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Embracing Your Story

Recently, a colleague and I facilitated a workshop on Creative Writing and we were delighted to discover people who, like us, have a yearning to write. My wondering is if there are a lot of people with a similar yearning who are drawn to writing but don’t know where to start.

Everyone has a story to tell and our stories matter.

I often think about people like AA Milne who wrote delightful, illustrated stories about Winnie the Pooh and Edith Holden who wrote The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady and wonder if they could ever have imagined how precious their writing and sketching would become to so many people.

Many of you will be familiar with John Roedel who unexpectedly gained notability as a writer and poet through his heartfelt Facebook conversations that went viral and became an Amazon best-selling book titled, ‘Hey God. Hey John.’ And the poet, Emily Dickinson who wrote beautiful poems, still so widely read and loved. I wonder how the writing of Beatrix, Edith, John and Emily have influenced and inspired others to write?

What is it that stops us from putting pen to paper? Is there a voice within us who whispers, “Who do you think you are? Who will be interested in what you have to say?” This inner critic could be holding us back from discovering the joy of writing and the value of our words for others – this voice needs to take some time off!

Something wonderful happens when we put our thoughts down on paper. Writing can be a therapeutic process to unlock the words we’ve been afraid to say out loud. Writing stories about your own life can be a wonderful gift to your children and grandchildren. How many times have you heard people say, “I wish I’d asked my granny or mother about her life?” These are the lost stories and are part of our heritage.

I was privileged recently listened to an 84-year-old Dutch lady telling us the story of her life. I was deeply moved! She told us how World War 2 had broken out when she was a little girl and she was taken away from her family, together with many other children, and sent to a ‘farm’ where she lived for the duration of the war in not very comfortable conditions. Her father, a clever carpenter, built false walls in their home to hide Jewish families behind, and lay wood over valuable copper tables so they wouldn’t be confiscated to use for weapon making. Her grandfather made shoes out of cardboard for her, but she was unable to walk outside in these shoes because, if they got wet, they disintegrated.

As she spoke, I was reminded of 15-year-old Anne Frank who received a diary for her thirteenth birthday shortly before her family and another Jewish family were hidden in a secret annex in Amsterdam for two years. She wrote a day-by-day account of this experience in her diary. Her story has become world famous, a tragic narrative which ended when her family were captured and sent to Bergen-Belsen where she later died. Movies have been made about her life based on the notes she made in the diary. Her story, like many others are gold! They need to be told.

I wonder what story you want to tell, what poem you need to write, or maybe there is a novel or a play wondering around in you?


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