As writers, we move out of the way and craft real life characters and narratives that resonate with readers. Good writing is built on not worrying about inappropriateness. This “confidence of voice” has been especially challenging for women. Silencing confident women remains prevalent in our society. Although I wrote a version of this post almost four years ago now on Women’s Writing Circle, the truth remains that women who speak out are courageous, gutsy and help other women do the same, all of which takes motivation, intent, hard work and fearlessness.
In telling our stories, we accept our imperfections, flaws and our gifts. The alchemy, the magic of life story writing takes the mundane, the ordinary and converts lead into gold. We bring to the conversation something which “speaks” to all of us.
In Lena Dunham’s bestselling memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, a young woman tells you what she’s ‘learned’:
“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman. As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter. That personal writing by women is no more than an exercise in vanity and that we should appreciate this new world for women, sit down, and shut up.”
The creative medium that is memoir leads to awakening. It opens the possibility of connecting with others. It’s not narcissistic vanity or self-indulgence, it may even be the ultimate act of love…and self-love.
Studies have shown that we are wired to remember stories more than data, facts or figures. The “power” of a story resides in a narrative that brings both the storyteller and her audience together, sometimes in a transformational way. Story, whether memoir or fiction, gives us an opening to teach or persuade, to learn more about ourselves and others. If done with goodwill and intent, this is a gift.