A Smack in the Face About the Need to Be Creative

THE THREE gifted storytellers spoke with passion, eloquence, good humor, and conviction about how they do what they do, and why it matters, and when they were done–no, even before they were done–I was reminded of why it’s so damned important for me to find the time to tell my own stories.

I’m in Hershey for the annual conference of a professional organization I’m fortunate to be part of, and the same thing happened at last year’s gathering. I had encountered a couple of folks who work in my field and chatted with them about the struggle of creative work outside the office. The conversation had turned to blogging, and one of my new friends confessed a desire to return to it:

Like me, she wants to write beyond her job; like me, she’s had it fall by the wayside of late. And so we exchanged contact info and pledged together to get back on the horse.

I can’t say it happened for me. Too many other things have gotten in the way–the job, the commute, the house, the family–but the truth is that one needs to make the time for these things if they are that important.

And they are, at least to me.

Yesterday, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a college communications director and freelance writer, and an alumni magazine editor addressed more than a hundred people rapt with attention in a crowded meeting room. Their topic was “Telling Your Story: Good Writing Is Still Good Writing in Any Media” and was meant to inspire us to be as creative as possible whether in a tweet, a 2,000-word feature, or anything in between.

Inspire it did. (Search for “#CUPRAP14” on Twitter and bask in the accolades.) For me, though, it did more than that.

Hearing this diverse trio talk of telling your story, no matter who’s listening, no matter who’s telling you not to bother; hearing them exhort us to write with honesty and fearlessness; hearing them urge us to find truth in the universal as well as the minute; hearing all of this and so much more was a smack in the face that got me thinking about my own calling. Not my job, but what I consider my calling.

My gift is the ability to tell stories–I have no doubt of this. Stories can be told in many ways, to many audiences, across many platforms, and I am doing it to a small degree, but not nearly enough. I have no doubt of that, either. I have more stories to tell–my own stories, in my own way.

I need to start telling them. Not want. Need. | DL

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