Many writers make careers out of telling their own stories. That's true of memoirists, essayists, bloggers, and even some fiction writers, but it's not true of me.
Then in May, I attended a digital storytelling workshop by StoryCenter, held at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. I was there for my day job as a university digital content producer (that is, writer for mostly online media) to find ways to deepen the create about students, faculty, and alumni. But after signing up, I realized that the workshop format involved telling your own story. I'd be practicing on myself.
Benjamin Franklin, founder of the university where I work, wrote, "Either write things worth reading,
or do things worth the writing." (He did both, and was a celebrated autobiographer to boot).
I've always thought the mundane particulars of my life are not worth the writing. It's only when I use my experience to make things up that my writing gets interesting.
Now, I'm used to telling I write stories about other real people in my day job, and my writing fiction for children is currently my side hustle. I'm even used to writing blog posts like this one, but when it comes to telling my own story, I tend to lose the plot, mainly because there isn't one. I've once took a class on first-person narrative nonfiction, and the personal essays I wrote lacked both shape and detail unless I considerably embroidered them -- and embroider enough, and they turned into fiction. . Embroider some more, and they turn into fantasy. (I tried this once as an exercise, and which turned into the middle-grade short story The Mermaid Game, paired with a nonfiction essay, Shark and Minnow.)
Sitting in the story telling workshop, I didn't have the option to embroider reality, but I managed to add dragons anyway (along with a JRR Tolkien reference) while talking about how insomnia led me to write middle grade fantasy. Here is the result.
Did deepen my story telling skills for my day job? I hope so. And I did get some good tools for my next book trailer...