Does the World Really Need Your Story?

This week snow fell–again, about a foot, on top of already knee-deep layers. I strapped on skis and went off into a spruce forest near my house, my tracks the first marks on the page of the world.

Starting a new writing project, a book or an article, even a blog post, feels much like this. I see something falling outside my window–an idea, a passion, a glimpse of something true and maybe beautiful. I eagerly strap on metaphorical skis and go out, wondrously lost in a world made strange again. I am confident that I belong here, that I will apprehend something of value and meaning. But the going gets hard. The surface of the snow changes. The skis get stuck. I fall. I discover dozens of tracks before me on the trail, most more graceful than my own. Why am I here?

Doubts track me down no matter where I am. I have learned not to dismiss them. They force me to consider and reconsider. Does the world really need one more story?

Today, I give three responses: two from others, one my own.

1. Your story can bring “healing and illumination” to others.

Katherine Paterson, prolific Newbery award-winning author, says with genuine humility, “I know my gift is limited. I know I cannot stand toe-to-toe with philosophers and theologians and solve for myself or anyone else the problem of evil . . .”  But here’s what we can do, she says, “we who are writers can tell a story or write a poem, and where rational argument will always fail, somehow, miraculously, in metaphor and simile and image, in simple narrative, there are, in the words of Barry Lopez, both ‘healing and illumination.’ Here I see a word of hope and possibility.”

2. Writing your story can preserve your life.

When Madeleine L’Engle’s husband says of her new work, “It’s been said better before,” she responds,  “Of course, it has. It’s all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anybody else, I’d never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said, by me, ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes out through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn’t what human creation is about. It is that we have to try, to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die.”

3.  Writing can move us toward the city of God.

If we pursue our stories, honestly and truly, they will send us on a pilgrimage that takes us, like Abraham, from one land to another, from a land of unknowing and darkness, through, of course, wastelands, where the promise of a promised land appears invisible and impossible . . . but the writing inexorably, day by day moves us closer to clarity, to wisdom, to the very city of God, if we allow it.

Don’t waste your doubts. Use them to move you forward into that forest, into the pages of that story that you must write—for yourself, for God and for others.


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This entry was posted in Encouragement, Writer's Life, Writing and tagged , , by leslieleylandfields. Bookmark the permalink.

About leslieleylandfields

Leslie is the multi-award winning author/editor of 10 creative nonfiction books, including Crossing the Waters, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers, The Spirit of Food, and Surviving the Island of Grace. She is the founder of the Harvester Island Wilderness Workshop, a writers' workshop led with Phillip Yancey, Ann Voskamp and many others. She leads writing retreat and speaks around the world on matters of theology, forgiveness, creativity, culture, family and food. She lives on Kodiak Island, Alaska, where she works in commercial fishing with her husband, her daughter and five sons.

9 thoughts on “Does the World Really Need Your Story?

  1. Thank you for this very inspiring article. I have been doubting if there is any purpose at all in writing, considering all the good authors and the millions of blogs out there – I was not sure if there was room for one more writer, if there would be any readers left to read what I write. This article really touched a chord inside.

    • Thanks,Rosanna. I struggle with these feelings all the time. There are yet more reasons to write our stories—I hope to post them here another time. But perhaps this is enough to keep us moving forward, in faith!

  2. Oh my goodness, dianne, I know how sacred the walls are of a writer’s room! So glad this has encouraged! Write on!

  3. This post has made all the difference! My nonfiction is still in the dream stage, not on paper because there are so many great books out there already. But mine isn’t out there yet!

    • Susie, just the labor of committing words to the page will bring great rewards. Do begin, in small pieces and bites, and that weight that you carry will start being easier to carry as a trail is begun. Sending wishes for your fingers to find good, true words!

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