Story ideas: They are the hardest part of writing for me, with no close contender for second place. I wish this was due to that mystical concept that inspiration is elusive, requiring a muse or divine intervention or some such nonsense. No, I confess, in my experience ideas abound when you work hard for them. They escape you when you’re being lazy.
Whenever I have the privilege of doing a book reading or writing presentation, I always spend some time talking about the power of sharing your story. Everyone has a story, and everyone’s story is worth sharing, I say. I stand behind this. It is both true and important.
But in another way, it’s not true, right? Everyone has a story that has value in their own lives, within their own circle of humans. However, if you’re hoping to publish your story, to craft it into something marketable, the bar is a bit higher. And before you start down the long road of drafting it all out, editing it until your heart sweats and pitching it to agents, a good first step is to determine if your story is worth telling, not just to your friends and family, but to a larger audience of readers.
How can you know? To me, it comes down to two things: striking a balance between bizarre and relatable, and having a solid theme.
I went to prenatal yoga at 11am yesterday. It was a Monday. Perhaps nothing has made me feel more at the top of the human food chain. Who does that? Who gets to change out of their pajamas at 10:30am, drive downtown on a Monday and spend 75 minutes doing yoga?
As it turns out, the answer really shouldn’t have been me. I only went because I can’t make my evening class this week, and at 31 weeks pregnant, I am fearful of what could happen to my poor body if I go a week without making sure it can still bend in half. But though I worked before and after the session, it screwed up my productivity of my entire day to the point that I just gave up around 7pm and decided to start again tomorrow.
But here’s the thing: That was just fine. I wasted a day of my regular productivity, and I was fine. I have a beautiful home, the mortgage for which I can afford, even with an occasional day off; I control my own schedule; I genuinely enjoy what I do, so if I spend 14 hours doing it tomorrow, that’s fine; I absolutely have 14 hours to dedicate to work each day; but I don’t have to. I stop when I want.
Who is this person? When, I began to wonder when assessing all of this, did I become a person surrounded by comfort? And exactly how is it going to destroy me?