Last month, I sat in a ballroom and listened to Robyn Carr’s speech as she accepted the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award at RWA. Her speech was incredible, but one small phrase resonated with me. “Let’s make this year the year of the story.”
As a still-new author at a tricky spot in my writing journey, this struck me because it’s a reminder of why I began writing, continue to read books on the craft of writing, and read fiction until my vision blurs. I love telling stories, and I enjoy the challenge of learning to tell them better.
I came home deeply convicted to follow Robyn’s advice. I also came home to a brewing tragedy.
As I write this, we’ve just returned from a family weekend that revolved around my mother-in-law’s funeral. She was alive and semi-well when I boarded a plane for San Diego. Now she’s ... not. It’s still shocking how quickly it all happened.
Over this weekend, we spent a lot of time comforting each other and mourning our loss. However, we also spent an evening telling stories – not just about her, but about her family. A younger generation learning family histories from their aunts and uncles. (And probably one of the last times I will be considered a “younger generation.”)
My husband’s uncle is perhaps one of the best storytellers I’ve seen. He has this wonderful voice and a great southern drawl, and he knows just when to pause for effect. All evening he was peppered with requests, interrupted with questions, and coaxed to remember events – both good and bad.
As I sat on the porch, these people I’d never met came alive for me. Not their faces necessarily, but their histories and their personalities. I sat in the humid Arkansas evening, let the mosquitoes bite at will, and never once thought about checking my email or updating my status on Facebook. I learned how to tell a good story, and I reconnected with why I love to do it.
While I love connecting with readers and with other authors, I didn’t start writing because I love the idea of having a website, an author page on Facebook, or a Twitter feed. I’m not nuts about learning Snapchat or Periscope or Tumblr, or whatever new social tool comes up. (Except Pinterest. You’ll have to pry my Pinterest feed from my cold, lifeless hands.)
Marketing is necessary and it’s understandable. Sales are a must, of course. However, I can’t market what I don’t have written – and no one will buy it if it sucks.
I have my must-read “keeper” authors. They create amazing characters who populate stories that draw me in from page one. Those are the authors who inspired me to write.
I want to tell memorable stories. Every person deserves to be remembered, to have what happened to them remembered – even fictional people.
So, for me, this is the year of the story.
What about you? Favorite social tools? Introverted author? Favorite stories?