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No Greater Agony

I think Dr. Angelou might have been speaking from experience when she said this.

Even as a small child, I knew I wanted to write books, but I had no idea how it was done and (this was pre-pre-pre-Internet) had no access to anyone who might educate me. I held the stories inside me, my only outlet was telling stories about my fictional Canadian girlfriend. ?

My father was a big reader, he had a few paperbacks featuring Mack Bolan – the Executioner and a bunch of others by Elmore Leonard (and a decent Playboy and Hustler magazine collection too, but um… I never read those – really… I didn’t ?…)

The paperbacks (not to mention the Playboys and Hustlers that I never read) were WAY too adult for a sheltered 10-year-old to read, but man I loved them, even if I had no reference for half the stuff that went on in those stories.

As I got older, I did my research and began to try to put my ideas down on paper but having little skill and next to no confidence, I stopped.

For years.

Those years were terrible. I would go to sleep EVERY NIGHT with story plots in my head and wake up with the same plots continuing on in my head as if the story didn’t care whether I was asleep or awake, thank you very much, since it had a life of its own and would do as it pleased, like it or not.

I used to scoff at authors who talked about how their characters seemed to come alive and dictate their own destinies. Now I don’t, since I know EXACTLY what they mean.

If you are a writer, if storytelling is in your DNA, then stories are there, whether you like it or not.

They want to be told.

But, if for some reason you don’t set them free, they will play in a loop just under your consciousness, like a movie playing in the background when you’re cooking or eating or talking on the phone.

And. They. Won’t. Go. Away!

Not until you set them free.

Dr. Angelou was so, so right. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Stop the agony.

Always tell your story.


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