Tell a story.
That’s the point of the matter. I started this blog as a way to make sense of my day, to get through the grief and the silence of the late night when I couldn’t sleep.
Now I tell stories. Truths roll around my head and whether I want to or not I need to get them out. It’s the same thing with being a musician. I need to get the ideas out before they go away.
My daughter, Abigail, feels the same way with acting. My son, Noah, loves to make short films on his Nintendo 3DS, and wants to get a camera that will let him do stop-frame animation. Not sure if that’s going to happen anytime soon, but you get the idea. Sam loves to sing. Hannah wrote a song for her sister as a graduation present and it made Abbi cry.
At the end of the day we all tell stories. Robert Krulwich, a reporter for ABC News for a long time, anchor of the NPR program Radiolab, etc…says we all edit. We all take information given to us and filter out what we know is extraneous and add what we think to be important that we’ve heard outside the original story. Media reports tend to be bland, he says, and flat. Police reports say x, y, z . . . and then move on. But we still tell the story. The truth rolls around your head and you filter it with your own experience.
I bring this up because we all take stories in, we just don’t know it. I have them rolling around and they delve into the past, look into the future (though lately, not very far into the future) and bemoan what we hoped would happen with our lives.
I bring this up because I received a compliment from my daughter, whether or not she even thought much about the compliment. We were walking through the local department store after having had an insanely unhealthy dinner – an indulgence neither of us regretted this night. I’d had a massive headache all day and remembered needing to go to the store, just not what I needed in the store. While wandering we hit the book section and I remembered . . . James Rollins, who has been quite kind to me though not thinking it was a big deal . . . had a new book out. “You’re a good friend,” my daughter informed me, adding that it was nice I was supporting a local author. “Friend is likely stretching it, we know each other,” I told her, adding that he probably didn’t need all that support, he’s a New York Times bestselling author. But I do feel the pull to support a man who lives here and buy his book as it comes out.
Still, “it’s just as much for me, he’s a great writer,” I informed Abbi. “Yeah, but you’re a great writer, too!”
“Well, thanks, kiddo, though I’m not really a writer.”
“Yes, Dad . . . you are. You write every week for a national site. You’ve been published in Smithsonian. You’re a writer.”
“I guess you’re right, I suppose. Never looked at myself that way,” I added, even though I write every day in my job.
She added that I still had the ability to talk with James Rollins, most people wouldn’t even be able to do that, she said. But still…I wouldn’t ask a man who writes thrillers to look at material I’ve written. Though he did read the article in Smithsonian I’d written and found it interesting. That was enough for me.
The point to all this is not to raise myself up to a level where I’m a full-time novelist or compare myself to a bestselling author, I’m not that. I’ve written a book, wouldn’t call it a Sigma Force epic like Rollins’ material. But I write.
We all tell stories. It’s what you do with them . . . if you share them . . . that’s important. History is what we tell, not what’s always in the books. I’m sure James Madison was the great man the historians describe. I’m also sure there are dozens of stories about his personal life generations of Madisons tell you and I never get to hear . . . but they’re still there. Told.
That, you see, is the point of this blog now. I tell stories. Maybe 3 people read it today, maybe 300 or 3,000. Makes no difference, because even now, I can look back and tell my kids what got us where we are. The truth will roll around their heads.
And we’ll have the stories.