True to Life: 50 Steps to Help You Tell Your Story
True to Life: 50 Steps to Help You Tell Your Story, the textbook for my courses, is a distillation of my nearly-thirty-year teaching practice, packed with vital information for writers, laid out clearly and succinctly and illuminated with quotes from important creative voices, especially my friend, the great writer and teacher Wayson Choy.
Almost all the steps detailed here are relevant not just for creative non-fiction, but for every kind of writing, including fiction. There are a number of how-to books about creative writing, but few as concise and filled with humour and insight as True to Life.
Excerpt: Chapter One: 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 survives 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?