What’s your story?

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Is your story that you are Queen Helen, stolen away from your country by Paris where on foreign shores you’ve watched the fighting but never got to get your hands muddy? Is your story that you were held back? Held up? Washed up, gone ashore?

Stories among people I know include the one who is always sick, always in the hospital, probably dying. Other things are true of this woman. She’s a writer with a book out with Random House, a musician who used to play with the Atlanta Symphony, a jazz aficionado, an amazing chef, a great mother. But the story she gives out in the world is just that she’s sick. I want her to be well and acting on the world, I want a new story for her, but you can only rewrite your own story. And frankly, it’s always easier to see how others stories could be improved and much harder to rewrite your own story.

Another friend is chronically under-employed. But he’s a genius composer, a great dad and is happily married to a beautiful woman. I want a story of success for him, and I think he is writing it.

The story we pass around is how we are defined. The Retreat at Ghost Ranch was all about changing the story. You are a writer. You are getting your work out into the world. You’re already an amazing person. You rock, you just don’t know it yet.

Sometimes I think women writers are like giraffes who look in the mirror and see donkeys. We could stretch our necks and get the leaves for trees. We could run fast. But we’re afraid and that fear weighs us down.

Giraffes weighing 1.9 tons, 17 feet tall can run more than 32 miles/hour. That’s booking it! We can do that, but we see ourselves as donkeys and we plod along with our ears flopping in the wind. We need to acknowledge our giraffe selves, stretch out our necks and run.

Ellen McLaughlin performed from her plays for us last night. She was in Angels in America on Broadway and is an amazing playwright and actress. When she told about the potato famine in her Irish accent, you felt your heart splitting out of your chest and when she read Oediupus and her Helen of Troy plays, I felt the hugeness of the story she was inside of echoing along the mesas. Ellen, you are a genius.

I am missing Ghost Ranch already, the light pouring down the mesa, the writing, the stories and the way they keep changing.

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Published in: on August 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

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