Friday, October 4, 2019

Storyteller's Journey

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The Experiences We Need to Write

While there are numerous articles dedicated to the qualifications needed to be a Kidlit author, I've always been interested in exploring the experiences needed to be an effective children's book author.

It's important (and necessary) as a new writer to become proficient at all the elements of storytelling, as well as to be adept at using  the English language. Obviously, it can take years to actually acquire those abilities. (I'm still working on them!) But to assume that those are the only skills necessary to be an effective and authentic writer is just not true. In the eleven years since I embarked on my storyteller's journey, I've learned a myriad of lessons. One of the most important, and least discussed amongst writers, is the necessity to live a full life.

When I read a children's book that really resonates with me, I almost always delve into the biography of the author. I'm curious. I want to know about their education, background, online presence, etc. While there are just as many paths to publication as there are authors, I've learned one thing: Living a full life is necessary to be an author with something important to say - something that will speak to children.

Negative experiences I've seen mentioned by successful authors reveal they found strength amidst their struggles. Here are just a few:

Painful childhood
Debilitating shyness
Struggles with identity
Lack of financial support/poverty
Spiritual confusion
Victim of bullying
Struggles with living in a diverse community
Struggles with parents
Dealing with a divorce - as a child or an adult
And on and on...

It's not that you must suffer to be a writer, but you must suffer to be compassionate and empathetic. That's just how it happens. To touch the hearts of young readers, we need to have experienced a few struggles that some of them have experienced. The fact that we over-came our obstacles can give hope to a child who sees no way out of her dilemma. Surviving almost always yields wisdom as its reward.

But, it's not just negative experiences that are required, it's those positive experiences we choose to bring into our lives. Here are a few:

Enjoy a hobby outside of books: Music, art, sports, etc.
Have a curious mind; continue to live & learn
Travel - learn about other cultures
Volunteer - no better way to fill your heart with joy!
Maintain a strong network of friends & family
Exercise - I'm still working on this one!
Discover your spirituality - in whatever form it takes
Conquer your fears - wade into unfamiliar waters
Attend writer events - a great way to learn & have fun!
And on and on...

One of the best ways I've found to help heal emotional wounds - and to become whole - is to infuse the soul with positive experiences like those listed above. (However, there are times when professional help is needed; always  consult your physician or health care provider.)

As you can see, I've written one of my longer posts. This topic has been on my mind for some time. There's one more thing:

You must share your experiences to be an authentic author.

Therefore, let me be honest; I've struggled with nearly every negative point I mentioned above, beginning with enduring a painful childhood. I'll leave it at that, for now. The good news is I survived, and thrived.

Live a full life! Everything you experience will make you a better writer.

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