I’ve been thinking a lot about stories recently.
As a child, my whole world was full of stories. My dad read out loud to us at nights, using his different voices to create a world of imagination for my three siblings and me. That’s how I was introduced to Lord of the Rings, The Count of Monte Cristo, A Tale of Two Cities, and so many others.
My sister and I used to lay awake at night, while I made up stories and told them to her underneath our covers. I can’t remember most of them now. They were absurd at points, funny at others, sad at times. One night I remember vividly: A friend was over. I told them both a story of a girl and a boy who found a key of magic that they had to take to the farthest reaches of their world.
This story I began writing down. I finished 37 pages on our computer, then stopped. I was ten. From then, I wrote countless stories. I found one about a year ago. It was hilariously bad, but it had the sparks of a storyteller even then.
As a teenager, I drew a lot. I began writing stories out of the drawings when I was 15. The stories became a cohesive book at 17. The book grew into three books. I wrote and wrote and wrote…I was a storyteller, and I was filled with joy.
My senior year of high school, I stopped. I encountered too much heartbreak and depression, and creativity ceased for almost two whole years. I still wrote, but it was the painful writing of nonfiction—of a real life that began to get increasingly depressed and confused.
Stories didn’t seem to matter anymore.
Even when I recovered from pain and went to college, I was no longer a storyteller. Because to be grown up, you don’t write stories. To be a good Christian, you don’t write stories. You become a missionary or a pastor (wife of a pastor). In real life, stories seemed…pointless. Good didn’t win, and people didn’t change, and there was never real love.
I stopped believing in the power of creativity.
Thankfully. God has been gradually bringing back stories into my life in the past 3 years. It began in my junior year in college in Fiction I and II classes with a professor who ripped apart my stories, putting them back together in a tighter, deeper form. The summer before my senior year in college, I felt the urge to write stories creeping up on me. My senior year, I went back to that old story I began at 15 for my senior project, the summation of my Communication degree at college. I re-wrote three chapters with a fresh vision, wrote a proposal, and was mentored by several editors at the publishing house my school was associated with.
“Keep writing,” one of my editor-mentors told me. “You have it in you. And I wouldn’t just say that. I mean it. Keep writing.”
So I kept writing. The year after graduation, I wrote. I began my stories afresh. The first book in my trilogy was finally going to be shaped into the deepest, truest story I could muster. It was the only thing to keep me from sinking into despondency as I received job rejection after job rejection. I was only working part time, barely making it each month, and I wrote many hours. Finally last March, I did get a job and moved to Colorado. But I continued to write, drawing fresh vision from the grandeur of the scenery around me.
Then last October, my friend died tragically. She was one of the friends who read the very first draft of my book back in high school. She was my Kindred Spirit who believed in stories and writing and imagination and helped me believe in those things, too. We dreamed of cottages in the mountains and being novelists.
And when she died, I wrote. I wrote through my tears and my questions. I wrote through the darkness and the despair. I wouldn’t stop this time, although part of me wanted to give up everything in despair. When I felt weighed down by the horribleness of murder and deception in real life, I wrote my stories. I wrote for her, and I wrote for truth, and I wrote to shine light and love and beauty into this sad world.
I will write to honor her legacy.
I am a storyteller.
And now, I will never stop writing my stories. And I won’t stop until all the stories in me are done. Because I believe in stories once more. I will write and write…because I am a storyteller, and it fills me with joy.
I serve a God who made a Book of Living Stories so He could communicate with His children. A God who designed us with gifts to create stories in thousands of different ways. I am beginning to believe in stories once more. And I will be a storyteller, if that is truly what God wants.