Whenever I announce to a stranger I’m a writer, I often receive similar responses.
“I’ve always wanted to write” or “I’ve got a story to tell” or “You wouldn’t believe the life I’ve had. I need to write a book.”
I read something recently that sticks with me. When a person dies it’s as if a library burned down.
Yes, we all have stories to tell and the advent of the Internet has made sure that anyone who wants to tell those stories can. But not everyone is a writer. Writing requires the ability to tell a story even when writing a blog. Others disagree with me. My first editor once told me columns didn’t have to tell a story. I still disagree with him. Seinfeld liked to say his show was about nothing – cute and clever marketing. But each episode told some type of story. Those stories were usually filled with simple one-liners about superficial subjects, but they all followed the plot pattern. We stayed tuned because we wanted to know if Elaine got her soup; if Jerry survived the balloon shirt; if Kramer had a first name; if George ever got a job. Seinfeld and crew knew how to tell a story.
It’s knowing how to tell the story that counts no matter the subject matter. We writers are the troubadours of our time. It’s up to us to save those libraries line by line, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, book by book.