What the Reader Sees-- and Why it's All That Really Matters

May 22, 2013

It's now been a few weeks since I attended the amazing LDStorymakers writing conference. In addition to all the wonderful classes and awesome people, there was the most moving and powerful keynote address I've ever heard. Author Anne Perry stood up and reminded us who we are.

We are storytellers. We are members of one of the oldest and most honored traditions on the planet.

Stories, she reminded us, are how we find and attempt to understand the truths we seek about life-- who we are, where we're from, and where we're going. What should we do that is wise? What is good and stupid and what will happen when we make mistakes? They remind us that when you act less than you could've been, you make yourself less.

In this age of instant communication and distraction, I've found that sometimes I let the story itself take a backseat. I let other things matter: how long has it been since I blogged, and how many comments are on my recent post, and who should I tweet, and she has more followers, and he got more offers of agent representation, and her book is coming out next year and why isn't mine yet.

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And I forget that these things don't matter. I am a storyteller. A conveyor of truths through the medium of lying we call fiction. A shaper of people's lives-- even if the only life my stories shape is my own. That is what matters. The reader is what matters. They don't see how many rejections I got, and how many months it took me to revise, and the review on Goodreads from someone who hated my book, and how many stories I wrote before I managed to communicate the things I meant to. The reader sees the story-- and not necessarily the story I wrote. They see in the story what means something to them.

Great writing, Anne Perry said, is relatively simple. It uses simple words. The basic words of ordinary people hold the meanings dearest
to them. Put your heart on the page. Write the thing that is most beautiful to you. What's in your heart is precious-- it enriches you. Let it enrich others. Your book may be the companion some reader has been seeking.

So, my friends, remember the power you have. You are a storyteller. You have the ability to communicate to readers the truths they are seeking through your stories. All the reader sees is your final words on the page, and the meaning in those words that is precious to them. And that is all that really matters.

26 comments:

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Beautiful, Shallee!!! Thank you. Anne's talk was such a great reminder of what is most important, and your own words have captured that perfectly, too.

James Duckett said...

Well said. I was blown away by her keynote!

Emily R. King said...

Beautifully written. You've conveyed so eloquently why I love to write and why readers love to read. Thank you!

Suzanne Furness said...

What a great way to explain it. I hope that my stories convey a little piece of me to anyone who reads them.

Sara B. Larson said...

Lovely, wonderful post Shallee--and very well timed for me as I embark on writing my sequel. Thank you.

Janet Johnson said...

Love this! It's so easy to get side-tracked from what we're really doing. It's inspiring to realize how much impact a story can have . . . even if it's only on ourselves. :) So wish I could have been at LDSStoryMakers this year.

Cherie Reich said...

What a great reminder that we are storytellers! I loved this line: A conveyor of truths through the medium of lying we call fiction. It's so true!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Wasn't she fun to listen to? So many quotable statements, and I loved her accent.

Karey said...

Love your take on the keynote. I loved everything she said. I wish it was recorded so I could listen to it every time I start to get discouraged.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

So next time someone asks me what I do, I'm not going to say I'm a writer. I'm going answer that I'm a storyteller. :D

Kathryn Purdie said...

I was in awe of everything Anne said. Thanks so much for this blog post so I won't forget some of the details. And thanks so much for your own thoughts, just as poignant as Anne's. <3

Beth said...

I've been struggling with this myself lately. When I get really busy writing my social media takes a hit. When I get busy marketing my writing takes a hit. *Shrugs* I'm struggling to find a balance. And I worry my daughter is being neglected either way. (I'm a stay at home mom so I'm always here, but I wonder if I should be playing w/ her instead of writing/blogging).

Leigh Covington said...

Her keynote speech was AMAZING! It was one of the best I've heard. Loved seeing you at storymakers, dear, and I love your new headshot :)

Michelle Merrill said...

Great post! Still wish I could've gone, but I'm happy to have the messages relayed :)

I have to say, my story right now is really tender to me and I'm driven by so much passion that the story itself is unfolding in a way none of my others have. It's fantastic!

Lisa Gail Green said...

This is such a beautiful post and sentiment. I'm going to go tweet this right now!

Tanya Reimer said...

And there is a certain magic that happens when we forget all those outside things and just storytell. Beautiful post.

shelly said...

Awe... this was lovely.

Hugs and chocolate,
Shelly

ilima said...

Beautiful post. Anne Perry is a wise woman. She definitely makes me want to be a better writer.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Lovely post, Shallee. We storytellers wield a lot of power.

Ella said...

What a beautiful post! I am happy your stopped by my blog and we met!
I love these thoughts~
Thank you so much for sharing!
@>-----------

Haneen I. Adam said...

Inspiring and hits home with me, it's either I write from my heart or I will never finish the story no matter how hard I try:)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Anne Perry is one smart lady!

I totally wish I could have been there!

Tara Tyler said...

a conveyor of truth. thats what i want to be. to help those looking for it! well said!

Lynda R Young said...

Story rules!
Wonderful post, Shallee

David P. King said...

Anne Perry ... I can't begin to mention the awesomeness of her coming to Storymakers. :)

Romance Book Haven said...

Beautiful post. And so true!

Nas

 
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