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Tell Your Story

Posted by Lindsay on April 9, 2014


This Anne Lamott quote is from her book Bird by Bird, one of the best books on writing I have ever read. This quote is EVERYWHERE on the Internet. I can't tell you how many times I've thought of these words after a frustrating, insulting, heartbreaking encounter. Us Christians tend to say that'll preach. Well? That'll write. Or something.

I was in the midst of a discussion in my Story Sessions group about the boundaries related to this quote. Yes, I own my story, but where's the line? When is it slander? When is it gossip? When it is just being hurtful? How much is my right to share?

I have so. many. feelings. about this. 

The truth is that none of our stories stand alone; they are always interwoven with someone else's. It can be difficult to decide what is ours to share and what we should keep private out of respect. Yes, I own everything that happened to me, but I don't own the right to assign motive. I don't own what led someone to make the decision to behave badly toward me. I own what someone did or said to me and how I responded. 

While I think it's important not to assign motive to actions, I am also a firm believer in owning your behaviour. Our actions and choice affect people, and (this is where I start to get fired up over this) if you don't want people to talk about how badly you treated them, don't treat them badly. You are not allowed to lose your temper, insult me, offend me, abuse me, hurt me, humiliate me or any other host of things without expecting consequences. Those consequences might be nothing more than temporary damage to our relationship, or some nasty words exchanged. Or a relationship might change permanently- it might even end. Your blood relation to me does not excuse abuse and mistreatment. Your actions had some part in shaping me and my story and I have the right to tell that story. 

I write on this blog, and I write fiction. I don't reveal many details about my life in this space that are not solely mine. I don't edit much of what I write here, and given that I often write from an emotional place, I avoid mentioning specific people, situations, etc. There's too much potential hurt and damage from unedited, emotional writing. 

When I'm writing a novel, though, and I have the opportunity to shape and edit my words, I delve into much more of my personal experiences with other people. Since it's fiction, I take Lamott's advice to change identifying characteristics and find creative ways to work experiences into my stories, but I'm not afraid to tell them. I get my story ideas from my life and my interactions with people.

Whether we write them or paint them, sing them or speak them, we are telling our stories. We tell them when we live our lives, in the ways we interact with people. The ways we hurt and heal people, the ways we love them. Writing them in a blog or a memoir or using them as inspiration in a novel or a poem is only one way to share them. I don't read the words of that quote and think I can say whatever I want about whomever I wish. I do hear permission in those words not to hold my stories captive. 

I think there are many practical ways to tackle the how-tos of this, but that's not really where I wanted to go with this tonight. I wanted to sing a little freedom into your day and remind you that however you need to share your story with the world, do it. Do it with grace and respect, but don't let fear tell you that someone else's feelings invalidate your own. 

Tell your story. The world needs your story, and if you don't tell it, no one else will.

When I Silenced Myself on My Own Blog

Posted by Lindsay on March 12, 2014

I wrote this post the other day as my contribution to the Story Sessions "The Girls We Once Were" link-up. It was true, but something has been bugging me ever since I hit publish.

I don't think that's the post I was supposed to write.

I think most of...(read more)

Do You Remember What it was to Dream?

Posted by Lindsay on March 11, 2014

Do you remember?

The white paper, emblazoned with the school logo, telling you that you- you- could go to France. You could live with a family. You could go to school. You could breathe in the French air and speak the language that had captured your heart.

Do you...(read more)

Embracing my Inner Mystic

Posted by Lindsay on March 3, 2014

I like things known and concrete. I don't do very well in the abstract. I'm not much for meditation or the spirit world or even poetry. It's not that these don't ever speak to me, but most of the time, I want you to tell me clearly. I want to be able to understand, to...(read more)

Do Something

Posted by Lindsay on February 28, 2014

I've been gathering cobwebs here lately. I've watched friends fire off post after stunningly well-written post and felt that guilt settle within me. You're not writing. You're not making connections. You're not putting yourself out there and doing the work. 

I've...(read more)

Lighting a Fire

Posted by Lindsay on January 31, 2014
















You may have seen Taylor Gahm's Ted Talk this week. It's making its way around the Internet, one phrase seeming to rise up above all the rest:

"if you want to find your true...(read more)

I Don't Want to Be Skinny Anymore

Posted by Lindsay on January 27, 2014

When I was in high school and university, the mall was my second home. I poured all of my disposable income into jeans, shoes and tops. My closet busted at the seams. The sales associates at American Eagle knew me. I could have (and sometimes did) shopped every single day and...(read more)

It's a Square Peg/Round Hole Situation

Posted by Lindsay on January 17, 2014

Sometimes, things are good and honourable, but they are not for right now.

This has been a painful discovery for me to make. I am still learning that when I hold things too tightly, when I claw and dig and press to make something fit into my expectations, I...(read more)

Battling Resistance

Posted by Lindsay on January 13, 2014

It's dark in my little corner of the house right now. I don't have a lamp for my shiny, white new desk, and since it's before 6 AM, there's no light flooding in through the windows. I haven't been up this early, voluntarily, in quite a while.

That was the plan, though.

...(read more)

When My Greed Told Me I Was Afraid

Posted by Lindsay on January 3, 2014

Photo by Jennifer Upton

In one of the first sermons I preached, I told the story of how one of the richest men in the world answered the question, "how much money is enough?"

"just a little bit more," he said.

I don't remember what I was...(read more)