My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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TRUE TO LIFE: Chapter One.

Dear friends, I’ve heard that many people are becoming interested in writing during this pandemic, which makes perfect sense to me. I’d like to let those people know about my book True to Life: 50 steps to help you tell your story, which is a concise guidebook to personal writing: getting started, letting the stories out, keeping going.

I’m posting the first chapter here. Let me know if you’d be interested in more. If you’re blocked from replying to this blog – some are, and I can’t seem to fix that – please get in touch via the email address on the Contact page here. I’m available for coaching, editing, consulting, encouraging, teaching. Hooray for Zoom.

1
Believe in your stories
and your right to tell them
_
Everyone has a story worth telling, a saga worth listening to. Have you ever been bored somewhere when the dull-looking stranger nearby opened up and began to talk? I can still hear the man beside me on the plane who’d just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and was afraid for his children; the woman at a party who dressed heterosexual men in women’s clothing for a living. (“They all think they have great legs,” she told me.) Flannery O’Connor famously said that anyone who gets through childhood has enough to write about for the rest of time. We all contain a universe of stories.
But which ones to write down and which to share with others? And who would be interested in your stories? Who cares if you write or not? Don’t you have something more useful to do than fiddle around in your own head? Who the hell do you think you are, anyway?
I remember a young student, Grace, who worked hard to write well but every week read us pieces swimming in sweetness. She wrote nothing personal or risky, just generalizations about togetherness and, one week, a homily about 9/11. We could not convince her to speak in her own voice and be honest about her own truths.
On the last day of class, she rushed in, breathless and apologetic. She hadn’t had time to write that week, she said, and so had just dashed something off. She was sure it was stupid and mundane.
And then she read. She told us her older sister was a drug addict whose two small children were about to be taken away and put up for adoption. Grace wanted to adopt them. She had found a job in day care, and the summer before she’d volunteered at an orphanage in Romania, a gruelling experience. She hoped her dedication and expertise would convince the authorities she’d be a responsible caretaker for her nephews.
“I’m going in front of the judge tomorrow,” she said. “I’d pass out from fear, except that I love those kids so much.”
We were so surprised and moved that for a moment no one knew what to say.
Crestfallen, Grace said, “I knew it was terrible. I’m, like, the most boring person on earth.”
And we rushed to tell her how riveted we’d been by her treatise on the power of blood ties. I hope she believed us. I hope the judge believed her.
When we tell of the things we care about most deeply, when we dare to write with courage and honesty in our own clear voices, we can mesmerize an audience, as Grace did. We all have powerful, important stories. But sometimes we don’t know what they are, and we don’t know how to tell them.
What stories do you tell the stranger sitting next to you on the plane? What are the big stories stored in your head and heart? Is it time to write them down?
                                                 
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
mary oliver

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2 Responses to “TRUE TO LIFE: Chapter One.”

  1. theresa says:

    Nicely done, Beth!

  2. beth says:

    Thanks, Theresa!

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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