If you can tell good personal stories, you can tell the big ones, too.
I celebrated Day 1 of NaNoWriMo by going to a story workshop. Total coincidence, actually, but the above nugget they shared got me thinking about one of my friends from high school, Laura Bevacqua. She was my photography buddy and twice as good as me (okay, three times as good because this stuff is quantifiable). It made sense she was going to study photo-journalism in college and move to New York City.
I can still remember these black and whites she took at a flea market. Looking at them made me want to go there, but when I looked at them, I also felt like I had been there. That’s how good Laura was at taking pictures. There was one of an exceedingly large man, so large he rendered the fold-out chair he was sitting in tiny. His pants couldn’t contain his behind. Laura was 16. Of course she took a picture of his peek-a-boo crack. I was 16. Of course I laughed when I saw the picture. I’m laughing now as I write about it.
“Why do you think you need to go to New York City?” I asked her, handing back the picture.
“To get inspired.”
“I think you’re doing fine right here.”
This is the lesson Jo March learns in Little Women – writing about what we know resonates with others. We don’t need to go to New York City so much as we need to look around. We don’t need to strive for new so much as we need to reflect on why we keep returning to certain stories from our lives again and again.
The stories we keep telling mean something to us.
Why? What’s in there? Excavating to these answers will get us a lot farther in our storytelling than a plane ticket to NYC. Plus, everyone goes to New York. It’s a cliche.
Do you know what isn’t?
Flea market. Butt crack.
Look around today.