Today begins a commitment to thirty-one days of writing. Thirty-one days of stories from my life, from school, that I am putting out into the world.
It makes me think about stories, and how very much I talk and think about them. I carry them with me, and I encourage my students to do the same. Stories are wonderfully portable. We can roll them up into a ball and stick them behind our ears, shove them in our pockets, slide them into our shoes and carry them home so we can pull them out later, stretch them out and give them some air. This is especially helpful when we hear a great story and want to keep it for ourselves, or when the idea strikes us for a story at a random time.
But sometimes, stories hide from us. We sit expectantly, pencil in hand, or fingers on the keyboard, and nothing pours out. The wait becomes discouraging. Frustrating. Maddening.
What’s hard, then, is knowing that a story doesn’t hide from us because we’re poor writers, or because we have nothing to say.
What’s hard is knowing that sometimes a story isn’t working out because it’s just simply not ready to be told. That it needs to wait until the time is right. That it’s not about us. Sometimes, just sometimes, a story isn’t ready for us. But don’t worry. It’s there, hanging out, just waiting for the right time to make an appearance. And then, if we are meant to tell that story, that story will offer its words.
What’s hardest is teaching this lesson to my young writers. To teach them that perhaps the reason why words and ideas sometimes escape us, and perhaps the reason stories refuse to come together is that THEY are not ready for US, and not the reverse.
It is not our failure as writers that we get stuck. It is not a shortcoming to feel an absence of words. Rather, we can take it as a sign nudging us in a different direction.
Today, I think I got lucky. Words came to me for this post, and for that I’m grateful. I’ve got a lot of other writing I need to accomplish today, and I can only hope the words continue to be as kind.
This month, I’m not sure which stories will come tap me on my shoulder, will come pull my sleeve, demanding for me to tell them. I’m not sure which ones will peek around the corner and beckon me with a wave before scuttling off, giggling, into the distance.
I guess we’ll find out. Thanks for taking this journey with me.