Find Your Narrative
Where should you start?
Does your story start at the beginning and flow chronologically?
Or should you begin with one moment in time? Or maybe, a conversation?
I introduce my story with my move to Switzerland. I was almost 7, and my mom wanted her daughters out of the USA. She’s Brazilian, and had been living in New York City for over 15 years. Her relationship with my father had been rocky at best for a while, the two of them being too different for a healthy relationship. It lasted 12 years nonetheless, before they ultimately divorced and went their separate ways. My dad stayed and remarried in New York while my mother found a partner and built a new life for us all in Geneva.
Why are you telling your story?
Is it because you need to relieve yourself of it? Just vomit out the words, maybe?
Perhaps a word vomit as a flow of consciousness will help you find relief.
Or is it because you want your story to have an impact on someone else’s life?
In that case, the question to be asked is, “what kind of impact do I want my story to have?” and “what do I want my readers to take from my story?”
My choices and circumstances in life have led to a strange and pretty unique story. From being a Third Culture Kid to giving up school to become a nomad, many things may resonate with some people. But what has actually enthralled listeners and readers? The lessons I’ve learned, the pace at which I picked up Spanish, how I’ve managed to travel for cheap, and an increasing amount of advice on what good writing may look like from an editor’s perspective. So that’s what I’ve begun focusing on.
How should you present your information? Do you like making a list, writing a series? Do you want to build a complex non-fiction narrative? What about a work of fiction that contains the key elements of your story?
As I write, I develop my voice. I build my own version of a narrative, currently in the form of daily blog posts, in the future as a work of erotic fiction under a pen name to preserve some modicum of professionalism as a preschool teacher.
Think about it. Your voice is unique, but if you don’t know it yet, you need to develop it.
The best thing you can do for yourself, though, is to practice. Find your voice. Build it, create it, develop it. Write every in order to do so. Even if you think it’s crap, write. Push through the resistance, create.
Your story will begin to take shape, in your mind, in your fingers, on paper or through your screen.