At some point in my life, a teacher drilled into my head that stories written from experience are the best. While I don’t particularly disagree, I have only recently discovered how that advice is not always true and how it has disadvantaged me.
Two days ago, I cranked out John Green’s newest novel, The Fault in Our Stars, in one sitting. The story is riotously humorous and poignantly sad. I enjoyed the feeling of swinging from one emotion to the other so rapidly, sometimes more than once on a single page. My dad, who was watching me, commented, “That must be really confusing for your face.”
The reason why I mention this book is because Green wrote it from the perspective of a seventeen-year-old, female, cancer patient, none of which he has any experience with. I read a review which consequently asked whether or not it was Green’s story to tell. In my mind, I thought to myself, “He has made it his story to tell,” and that launched the question, “Now why can’t I do that?”
The first fiction piece I can remember writing was one I wrote in 2nd grade. It was approximately 9 pages long (a feat my classmates admired/hated me for), and it starred a talking puppy, a sassy kitten, and an evil lizard. It was your classic good triumphs over evil hero story, included a sewer scene (Les Mis anybody?), and ended with a disco rave. That was the last piece of purely fiction work I ever completed. Every “fictional” piece since then is a real-life story with some of the details changed.
To be honest, I am a fearful writer. I worry about how other people will perceive me through my writing. Did you read that correctly? I worry about how other people will perceive me through my writing. I have wanted to write stories about being a dancer, about being a nanny, about falling in love in Paris, but those stories remain unfinished because they are not my stories to tell. Most importantly, I am quite frightened for people to know how far the depths of my imagination stretch. The title of this blog is an indication of my self-consciousness. The Only Story I Know How to Tell could have also been I Don’t Do Fiction. As someone with substantial creative intelligence (and robust pride), I see the fundamental flaw in my thinking, and I want to squash it. Thanks to John Green’s example, I might be able to.
It appears as though I have found my New Year’s Resolution.
Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare the truth thou hast, that all may share; Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare. -Voltaire