Posted by: Viola | September 26, 2014

Write Your Own Stories

Today has been an important day in my life as a writer. Learned many things. But one of the major lessons that leaps out at me is the importance for people to write/tell their own stories. I write from my experience–my childhood, my adolescence, my adult years, my emotions, my memories, my passions. All my writings are shaped by my life history. This means, I cannot really write the story of another person. I can try, and I do try. I shift perspectives, I create narratives and poems about others, my poems document imaginary persons quite separate from me. But in everything, my priorities come through, my values, my educational background and interests, and whatever matters most to me at any given time. My messages, my philosophies, my passions. My writing is from me and follows my obsessions and interests very closely.

Writing stories is a powerful act. It is a way of documenting history. Most of us have a sense of how influential history is. How influential narratives can be. We understand how the past and the stories of the past shape our present and future. So many things about our lives are primarily based on narratives–the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, and stories we tell others about ourselves, and stories we tell about others about others. We make things up. Sometimes, we tell the truth. But mostly, we live and act in a world that is part fantasy and part reality. Real people, yes. We are real people, but we are making things up as we go along. We are telling stories to our kids, to our friends, our spouses, our coworkers, and we create the story of our lives every day. We build our identities through narrative.

Bearing that in mind, if you are passionate about the story of your life and telling it or sharing it with others, then please tell your story. Write it. if you are passionate about a place–Africa or Cameroon or America or anywhere on earth–then tell the stories about that place. No one can do it for you. If it matters to you, tell the story. Find a way to do so. If it matters to you what others know about you or your world, your life, then go ahead and share your story. Write your own book. Write your own essays and poems. Write your own blogs and keep your own journals.

Because I write a lot about Cameroon, it’s easy for Cameroonians to assume I am telling a general Cameroonian story. But it is my story, ultimately. My particular view of things. Some might share that view, others might not. But it’s my story that I am most interested in, at all times. Your stories are of great value to me, but I lived a story that was different from your own. And that is a good thing. We do not need to have the same lives or the same stories. And all stories/lives are different anyway, like it or not. No two are identical. You can share feedback with me, you can criticize me, you can see me as whatever you perceive me to be, you can disagree with my story and my versions of my story, or you can love and appreciate my story. But at the end of the day, it’s my story. And I get to tell it. In whatever way I want, and only my editors and publishers will get to work with me on the final product. You won’t. You will have no say in how and when and where I tell my story. The only control you will have is over whether you choose to read my story or not.

In summary, if you have a passion for stories and storytelling, go write your stories. Go tell your stories. Go share your most intimate and artful selves through language. Go be whoever you want to be as a narrator. Go re-write your history. Go challenge old ideas. Go light up the world with your own truths. Go experience what it is like to take a pen to paper and write from your heart. Go publish your heartfelt poem and see what that feels like. Go be a writer for Cameroon. I can’t do that work for you.

You are going to have to tell your own stories. Your own versions of history. And if you don’t, someone else will try to do it for you. It won’t be me, since I’ll be writing my own story. But someone else might come along and go about weaving stories about your lives. And you might not like how they tell the stories. You might not like their words. You might not like their language and their artistic choices. You might not like their style, or their voice. And the only thing you can do is to go and write the stories yourself. Don’t leave it up to someone else. Go and do it yourself. Go, go, go and write. Write! Write! Write! What are you waiting for? ❤

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Responses

  1. Great advice: write your OWN stories. They are meant to be shared.

  2. Indeed Sister Viola! It is your story. It was your emotions that you were sharing. Our perception of reality may be distorted but our emotions are never distorted. Emotional responses to any situation are individualized yet they are authentic and should never be discounted. You feel ownership towards your own story because you feel certain emotions attached to them that can never be thrown away. Verily, they are your stories and they are your emotions.


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