Do You Admit You Write Stories?

Posted: March 4, 2015 in Uncategorized
InsecureWritersSupportGroup
It’s the first Wednesday of the month and therefore it’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. ~ Alex Cavanaugh

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I admit that one thing I’m insecure about is telling people in social situations that I write stories for children. Some people look down their noses a bit and yet, the need for stories is as deep seated within us as is our ancient fear of spiders or our need to see trees. Our proto-human forebears started telling stories around the fire, in fact story-telling is the world’s second oldest profession, next to flint-knappers.

I get abiding joy from writing for children. And in my spare time, whether I’m reading the feed on Facebook or reading a magazine, I gravitate towards stories of people’s lives.  It’s like a natural response to look for the story.

‘Imagination, not intelligence, made us human. Squirrel’s are quite intelligent when it comes to nuts, but as far as we can tell, they have never told stories about a hero who stole nuts from the gods.’ Terry Pratchett.

And in conversation, I find that no matter how much I resist, I can never just give the bold facts, if something’s happened, I have to tell the story: I have to add drama, a bit of structure and storify it somehow.

There’s no reason to be ashamed of the things that bring you pleasure. Just own it. Make anyone who calls you on it feel horribly awkward. ~ Delilah S. Dawson

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Stories are everywhere.

Over on the Ourboox blog this week, Mel Rosenberg said, ‘Everything is a story. Songs, poems, movies, books, lectures, artwork, presentations and lectures, even scientific theses and papers are all based on stories. If you can tell good stories, chances are you’ll succeed in life.’

I like that thought, that my dedication to detail in conversation is not me being a blabbermouth and that my devotion to the story in everything serves a good purpose. Yes, let’s go with that. I remember when Sam, my son with Down Syndrome, was born, I hungered to hear about other parents in the same situation as me. How did they cope? How did these special children develop? I devoured books and magazines, searching for the fabric to help me make sense of the tale that was unfolding for real in my life.

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Bill Moyers did a terrific interview on Brainpickings with one of the great thinkers of our times, Martha Nussbaum. Bill asked her, ‘The common perception of a philosopher is of a thinker of abstract thoughts. But stories and myths seem to be important to you as a philosopher.’

Martha Nussbaum replied, ‘Very important, because I think that the language of philosophy has to come back from the abstract heights on which it so often lives to the richness of everyday discourse and humanity. It has to listen to the ways that people talk about themselves and what matters to them. One very good way to do this is to listen to stories.’

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Yes, that’s a perfect description of what stories are about for us, they’re our way of talking about ourselves and what matters to us. Our stories are social glue that holds us together, and they also spread our reach further, beyond ourselves. In financial circles, there is such a thing as the highly-regarded value of ‘storyum’, you may be a financial wunderkind but if you can’t spin the story as well, you will fail.

Why do I Write for Children?

As the inimitable Mr. Nathaniel Hawthorne put it so eloquently in 1853, Children are now the only representatives of the men and women of that happy era (the golden age) and therefore it is that we must raise the intellect and fancy to the level of childhood, in order to recreate the original myths.

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As readers, we sit by ourselves, alone in a silent room, and by doing that solitary thing we connect with other people — across time and space! It’s amazing when you think about it. ~ James Preller

Our stories matter. What we do matters.

So why do I still feel insecure about telling people I’m a writer? Are you insecure or do you walk proud?

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Talk to you next time,

Yvette K. Carol

Failure is the start point for future success.~ Bob Mayer

I love that!

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Comments
  1. Beautiful article. Hope to be in touch!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I started writing for children back in 1990 (took my first Inst of Children’s Literature course at that time) and had my first couple of sales around 1993, and it wasn’t until the last year or two that I was finally able to say, “yes, I am a writer.” So, yeah, I was insecure for decades! :}

    Love that Terry Pratchett quote!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. emaginette says:

    Heck, I’m putting it on my resume. I’m proud that I write. 🙂

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cgcoppola says:

    Actually, I used to be embarrassed telling people I was a writer. I think it was because I thought I wasn’t, or they’d think I wasn’t. Like I was a phony. Or something. Now, I don’t care. I believe in myself and what I love doing and what I honestly know I was put here TO do. So feel proud, embrace what you love and don’t feel like you can’t share it. Good luck to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks, Ninja Girl (is that you?) I went to an amazing talk the other night, and one of the exercises we had to do was write the feelings we’d like to have about ourselves. I wrote ‘Acceptance’ as one of mine. An old lady I used to know who was very wise, once said, “Acceptance is the hardest word in the English language.” Boy oh boy, have I come to see the wisdom in that statement. I aspire to accept myself one of these days, 100%
      I think it’s awesome that you’ve moved through your ya-ya’s around this already and have stepped into the next level, real pride. Well done, girl!

      Like

  5. I tell people I’m a writer, but the next question inevitably is, “What book have you written?” That’s usually when I hang my head and sigh. I’m not so much insecure as I am frustrated with the lack of results. Sorry about having to comment through Facebook, but WordPress doesn’t like my blogger account for some reason. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Ah, yes, I’ve experienced that same moment loads of times too, Candi! It sucketh. I’ve experienced so much frustration around this over the years. Even when I think it’s a ‘sure thing’ like the Chicken Soup stories which got such great reviews from my critique peeps have failed to ring the bell. However, we will get there, of that I am sure. 🙂
      As to FB, no worries, I just appreciate that you found a way to comment! A lot of folks – even other writers – will comment on my FB page about a blog post but still fail to actually leave a comment on the blog itself. So, thank you!

      Like

  6. Yvette, from the moment I first began reading your novel, I remember telling my critique peeps about a girl in New Zealand who could really write and that she was such a good storyteller. I am honored to have had an opportunity to work with you. And by the way, your Chicken Soup for the Soul stories rocked. (You made me cry.) I’m certain you’ll find a home for them.

    As to if I admit I’m a children’s author…today, almost always. But 25 years ago, a woman (at the orthodontist office) asked me what I did for work. When I told her I was a writer she said, “Are you published?” My answer was no, and she snapped back, “Then you can’t call yourself a writer.” So, I thought to myself, “Then I better get published.” Within months I was hired as a staff writer for an international magazine, and later hired at a newspaper where I wrote a Sunday column and edited the kids’ pages. My editor called me the accidental journalist. LOL! Eventually, I left the paper to pursue my original dream, writing books for kids. I admit early on I missed my job and my paycheck, but I’ve never regretted taking that flying leap into the world of writing for children.

    My favorite quote about story. “Perhaps we write stories, because we ourselves are stories.” (author unknown)

    Another favorite quote. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I have had many wonderful teachers along my writing journey.

    BTW….for months I slept with a note tucked under my pillow that said….I AM A WRITER!

    Yvette, I love your blog posts and awesome newsletter. And I’m enjoying your new YouTube channel. How do you keep up with everything? You are AMAZING!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Hello, dear Maria! I hope you don’t mind me resorting to sending you this by email. I suddenly realized I hadn’t told you I’d changed providers. Thanks for coming over to check out the new digs. 🙂 I’m starting to find my way around this place more successfully now. I love those quotes, esp. the first one. I might steal that one for my Great Quotes file!

      ‘The accidental journalist’, what a great tale you have behind you. This is your personal mythology. It’s all part of who you are as a writer and it’s a great story.

      As to your praise of my manuscript, I thank you for your support! As you say, you’ve cheered me on right from the beginning. I really appreciate that!

      Re the Newsletter and this blog, I just space them out, I do the Newsletter one weekend, the blog the other (apart from the first Wed of the month for IWSG when my post comes forward a few days), which gives me one weekend off so it’s fine. With YouTube, I didn’t get the videos I wanted this week which was disappointing. I intended to tape myself reading aloud the boys favourite bedtime stories from our list of top 5 – but I’ll get onto that soon. Last year was a year of really hard work so this year I’m trying to relax a bit more actually. If you see me overdoing it, tell me to chill! 🙂
      I’m just about to upload a few more of my illustrations.

      Like

  7. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Wonderful post, Yvette, and lots of great quotes in this. My favorite part of this whole post is this line: “the need for stories is as deep seated within us as is our ancient fear of spiders or our need to see trees.” I just love that!

    I used to be hesitant to tell people I’m a children’s author, but now I’m proud I write for children, and I know many of them think anyone can write for children and it doesn’t take much talent, but their opinion is their opinion and it doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m happy with what I’m doing and I love all the writer friends I’ve met through my writing journey, and many of them have gone through the same things I have, so it’s good to know others who can relate to us. We support each other, and that’s why these IWSG posts are so awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Hi Lynnie! Lovely to see you, I’d better get the laundry fired up in here 🙂 Thank you. And I was chuffed to see you’d picked my own words for your fave quote? Wow, how cool is that? I’m the queen of quotes, I can’t get enough of them and I collect them all the time. Bit of an obsession actually, finding just the right quote for every article, it’s like putting together a work of art.

      You were right. I give it to you, and everyone of our other friends over on Writing for Children and elsewhere. Everyone was right about blogging – I do love it! It’s fun. That and writing the Newsletter are forming such solid sources of joy in my life. I didn’t expect the social media side of being a writer to be so rewarding. But I do find the writing, and working together with images and colours and fonts, and special effects to create these pieces is challenging and super cool. I love seeing the end result come together in a way that other people get to enjoy, and then the resulting flurry of social interaction is fun. It’s like getting together with your mates after work for a drink!

      As to the last part of your comment, I agree. Alex, the Ninja Captain, was sort of genius coming up with the IWSG concept, it’s genuinely writers supporting one another.

      Yes, I love this community!! There’s the bi-annual Children’s Lit. conference coming up this year, called Tinderbox. The last time they had it in Wellington, it was called Spinning Gold, and I tell you, being in the company of all those children’s writers and illustrators for three days still stands out as an experience of incomparable joy. We understood one another perfectly and we were talking about the same interests. And the same goes for the online writer’s community, it’s comfortable, encouraging and good. The way friendships should be. It sustains! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hmm, it lists my old website and I don’t know how to fix that. Let me see.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yay, I fixed it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Oh thanks for checking that! I wasn’t sure how to put in bloggers URL’s, so I just wrote in the names of all the bloggers and hoped for the best. And WordPress came up with the sites. But I must admit I didn’t think to go through checking if they work. Doh!

      Like

  10. First of all, you have a beautiful face, Yvette. I can sense your kindness and good soul as clear as if you were standing in front of me. Writing for children is indeed a wonderful thing. The best of things. Children love the embellishment of details and over the board emotion, and you can’t fool them. I think what you write is truly a blessing. I have a children’s book inside my head that is whispering softly right now,being patient for me to finish my current projects. But I suspect one day it’ll be shouting at me to hurry up. This was a terrific IWSG post. Sorry I’m late.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      As my dad always says, Joylene, better late than never! Thank you for commenting, and what a gorgeous comment. I read it aloud to my youngest son, and he said, “Wow!” too. Ha ha. You have a lot of depth, my lovely friend, which I am sure comes through trial & tribulation in your life. It usually does. I am very heartened and comforted by your words. Thank you again. If you don’t mind, I’d like to cull this quote for my ‘Great Quotes’ file: “Writing for children is indeed a wonderful thing. The best of things.” I think that’s fab! And how exciting you are ruminating on a children’s book – woohoo! – please keep in contact about this future project, as I’d be interested to hear how you go. You never know, you may find a whole new career waiting for you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I definitely walk proud. Never be ashamed of who you are or what you do (I mean, unless it’s illegal, but I guess that’s a story for another day). Be proud of the fact that you can create stories. It’s a gift.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Diana Wilder says:

    Catching up… Why embarrassed or hesitant to say I’m a writer? Perhaps because I cringe when someone says ‘OH… So… Are you PUBLISHED?’ I am not sure why that should trouble me, but it does. Perhaps because I start wondering whether I am a ‘Real’ writer.. It is silly, but it’s an insecurity.

    (I always enjoy your posts.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks, Diana, that means a lot coming from another writer. 🙂
      Yes, I know exactly what you mean, I cringe too. I wonder if we all secretly still wish for that pat on the back that comes from traditional publishing? I know I do!

      Liked by 1 person

      • lynnkelleyauthor says:

        Diana and Yvette, you are writers. You might be prepublished, but you’re writers. I think we all go through that. I used to call myself a prospective writer or something like that. Even when we get published, we still think we’re not good enough unless we’re on a best seller’s list. Questioning ourselves has to stop at some point. Best to enjoy the journey with it’s peaks and valleys and when people ask if you’re published, smile and tell them, “Soon.” And believe it. I’m excited for you, Yvette! No one can say you’re not a writer. You look and act like a writer. Definitely a writer. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. yvettecarol says:

    Hear, hear, I agree with you, Lynn. At some point we do need to stop grasping and start actually just enjoying being alive in this moment. It seems so simple, yet why do I need to keep needing to learn it over and over again? Ha ha. The pathos of life!
    And hey, thanks for the vote of confidence. Yay for great pals to share the peaks and valleys with, and sing a traveling song with too probably, along the way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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