Write Your Story

So I just got back from the Speak Your Way to Wealth conference in Hawthorne, Ca.  Information overload, anyone?  There were some big names who came and spoke:  Mark Victor Hansen, Dave Lakhani, Adam Urbanski, Eric Lofholm, and the Blog Squad, just to name a few.  Sixteen speakers in all!  It was hosted by Arvee Robinson and Lee Pound, who also spoke.  The ‘cruise ship guy,’ Daniel Hall, even made an appearance.  He cruises the world for free in exchange for speaking for an hour a day on board the ship while the ship is at sea.  Not bad!  I could definitely get into that.

The Blog Squad definitely taught me a thing or two about blogging so in the very near future, this blog is going to change.  It will be a new an improved version of this one; it will be more brand specific, it will include an opt-in page, it will be focused on one topic only (writing your story), and will be more business oriented in general.  All exercise-asthma information will be moved to another blog dealing specifically with trying to run with exercise induced asthma.  I will also be joining twitter.com and some social networking sites.  My ultimate goal is to teach you how to write your story.

One story I heard this weekend from one of the attenders was about the loss of his 21 year old daughter.  She collapsed suddenly this past December and as you can imagine, he is in the throws of grief.  He wants to tell their story.  People asked me all types of questions throughout the weekend.  Do I deal with hard stories like rape and drug addiction.  Yes.  Do I help entrepreneurs use their story to augment their business. Yes.   Do I do New Earth stories?  No.  Do I edit or write the story?  It depends on the author, the project, and the time frame.  Each project is determined case-by-case.

I teach people how to write their story through individual coaching sessions, seminars, packets for at-home study (coming December 2008) and of course through professional editing.  Come back and visit to see my new blog site!

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The Unreliable Narrator

When you write your story, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.  One of them being, why?  Why do I want to tell my story?  Another question to ask of yourself is, can I be honest?  Or, better yet, am I trying to re-write history?  The best memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies are the ones where the storyteller can list his or her mistakes; tell the truth about what really happened and then reflect on the good and bad decisions.  The worst stories are when the author whitewashes or changes the bad decisions.  Sugarcoating is immediately apparent to the reader and in one sentence the author has gone from credible storyteller to unreliable narrator.

Let me give you a few examples.  For comparison, Forrest Gump is an unreliable narrator but this character was crafted on purpose.  The audience sees and understands things that Forrest does not, which is vital to the story.  This is not what I am referring to.  I am referring to authors who create themselves as an unreliable narrator by accident.  The reader can spot immediately where the author is trying to rationalize or cover up or change events in order to make himself or herself look better.  The author doesn't see it, but the reader does, which makes the author unreliable.

For example, I recently read a story written by a female who did not have a handle on the events in her life.  In other words, she was and older woman, my guess is she is in her late 50's, and she has had a  very colorful and checkered life.  She wrote her life story.  But, in her personal life she had not yet gone through the process of determining what all the events mean as a whole.  She had not yet asked herself, why did I do this or why did I make that decision or why did I get involved with that person, etc.  Therefore, when she penned her story, the result was unreliable.  She couldn't see why she kept repeating the same mistakes over and over.  It was incredibly obvious to the reader, but not to her. 

Specifically, at one point in her story she relayed an event that had happened while living in the south.  I'll summarize her words by saying that it was a hot night, her living room window was open, there was a gas station next door, a man saw her sitting on the couch in her underwear, she saw him look at her, he comes over and climbs through the window, and she just sits there and watches him come in.  Long story short, he does not rape her but instead spends the night and they have breakfast in the morning and he turns out to be a nice guy.  Huh?!  She thought that he was going to rape her but she made no move to close the window or run to a safer part of the apartment.  No offense guys, but any guy from a gas station  who sees a half-naked woman on her couch with an open window in front of her and proceeds to climb through the window isn't just coming for polite conversation.

To fix this conundrum, she needed to add some information to make the scene more believable.  If he really did not rape her, and they really did not have sex, then she needs to include the conversation they had about why he was there and why he went to all that trouble and then didn't want the sex.  Did she turn out to be too easy?  Or, she could have inserted a line about herself by saying, 'Secretly, I wanted him to want me.  I was lonely.  I knew people could see me in my underwear through the window.  I sat there because I wanted attention.  I wanted him to come to me.'  That would have been believable but it takes a strong person to be able to point out her flaws.

If you are not strong enough to do this, think carefully before you write your story about why it is that you are writing.  Even the most inexperienced readers will see that you are not being honest.  This will give your entire work an air of unreliability.  You will look worse than when you started.  Be honest.  Reflect on your life in a real, organic, and authentic way.  Fluff doesn't make for a good story.  Humility does.