I discovered the magical power of writing in a high school English class. The teacher tasked us with keeping a journal, and we wrote one entry a week and turned it in each Friday for a grade. The grade ensured that we did the work; she wasn’t judging our thoughts or the way we expressed them. At the time, I didn’t realize I was learning how to write from the heart, while simultaneously being aware that someone else was going to read it.
I got more comfortable with the writing process during a creative nonfiction class in college. The professor wrote in the margins of my stories: What do you mean here? How did you feel when that happened? We passed my stories back and forth until they felt complete.
Years later, I discovered skirt! magazine. When a new issue came out, I went straight to the personal essays. It felt comforting and validating to recognize parts of myself in someone else’s experience. Not long after I discovered skirt!, I started a blog. Ten years later, I still write on that blog.
Many times I’ve asked myself, Why? Why do I continue to write personal stories about my life, and specifically, why do I write personal stories about my life for an audience? And, as I look around at the current state of the world, I’ve asked myself, Why bother? Writing about my life can sometimes feel small, self-centered and irrelevant. What brings me back to the page is the story itself. The pull to document what I’ve seen, heard and felt is fueled by the deep sense that I’m not alone in this world, that we are, perhaps, not as isolated and different as we might think.
Our stories can change the world. That’s the Big Why.
It’s a bold idea, and it’s also the reason that my friend Becca Finley and I launched Charleston Storytellers, a creative hub that gives men and women a platform to share their unique voices. Our featured project is Listen To Your Mother and we’re in the fifth season of this national show.
Listen To Your Mother is a 90-minute live, staged reading about all things motherhood. The 2018 show will be held one night only: Friday, May 11 at 7:30 PM at The Schoolhouse in West Ashley.
The show features a cast of 14 local women and men, and together they prove that you don’t necessarily have to be a mother to have a motherhood story. Their stories tell a larger story about the depth and complexity of motherhood: It’s about how mothering and being mothered shapes us into who we are today. Everyone will walk away from this show feeling more connected to one another and to the human experience.
Cast member Whitney McDuff says, “My hope is that others will hear our stories and be inspired to share their stories in a positive way.”
I hope you’ll consider coming to the show. And, if you’re writer, I hope you’ll keep going. If you feel a pull to write, I encourage you to begin.