Monday, August 22, 2011

Tell Your Story

Everyone has a story burning inside them just waiting to be told. And many of those people feel it is their duty, their obligation, to make sure we authors know about their story because they are convinced it's the next New York Times best seller waiting to get published.

I get approached often by folks with story ideas they want to share with me. Usually they pull me aside and lower their voices like they're about to disclose the secrets that will once and for all blow open the mystery of the Kennedy assassination. As if their story is so remarkable, so fantastic, they fear for their life that someone will hear it and run with it before they get a chance to tell it to me and thereby claim a portion of the glory for themself.

It goes something like this:

"I have this story I know will sell millions. What if a scientist found some dinosaur DNA and was able to recreate dinosaurs by blending the DNA with that of a living reptile. And what if the dinosaurs broke loose and starting terrorizing New York City, killing people, stomping buildings, destroying everything. Well, what do you think?"

Um, I think that story's already been told.

Or sometimes like this:

"Okay, this one is a sure hit. What if a woman didn't want to be a woman anymore and had a scientist take parts from an ape and implant them in her, and what if she then slowly mutated into an ape and fell in love with a silverback gorilla. Only the silverback knows she really isn't an ape and tries to kill her. She escapes to America where she is put in a zoo and eventually drowns because she falls in the water and gorillas can't swim. Awesome, huh?"

Yeah . . . no.

But my favorite always goes like this:

"Okay, here's the beginning . . . a man wakes up one morning to discover he's invisible. There, I got you started now you take it from there and run with it."

[Insert blank stare and sound of crickets here.]

Do you have a story burning inside you? If so, here's my suggestion: you write it. No one knows your story like you do and no one has the passion for your story like you do. It's your story and only you can write it.


Bruce Hennigan said...

Latest conversation:

Hey, Bruce, I hear you and (insert name of vaguely familiar "friend") are writing a book! How's it going?

I stop for a moment and recall a conversation with this friend. He asked me to look at an idea for a book. I met with him for an hour, listened to his idea, and then told him to go write it. "When you get about ten chapters into the book, call me."

Now, it seems, I'M writing the book! Yes, this all sounds familiar. Here I am struggling to get my first fiction book out on the market that has taken me 12 years to accomplish and someone assumes I'm going to help him write HIS book.

This is hard for me. All of my life, I've been reluctant to say "no". That tendency landed me on the counselor's couch with paralyzing depression. So, I've developed a gently, but firm way of dealing with these things. I just say, "No, this is your idea. You write it. I have plenty to do already."

Contrast that with another apologist friend of mine who actually has a fantastic idea for a book. I suggested he write a book. The idea had never occurred to him and now, he is planning the book. I will not mind giving him some pointers because I know he is doing this on his own. He deserves to be successful with his project. What he didn't like hearing was it might take a while to get it published. Like, maybe 12 years!

Jillian Kent said...

It's amazing to me how many people want to write books and think it's not even that hard, but they never write their book.

Who was it that said, It is easier to have written than to write? Or something along those lines.