The Stories I Don’t Tell

I know a lot of other people’s stories.

Some are told to me, some I hear, some I see as I pass them by.

These are not the stories I tell.

I have always winced a little when told that we should write what we know.

So often I think that we are faced with this command and become tempted to cannibalize the world around us, convinced that our own lives are not nearly as interesting as the secrets we observe.

(Or we write our own lives in endless variation. This has its own joys and sorrows.)

These are not the stories I tell.

These are not the stories I wish to tell.

I have seen and heard stories of heroism and tragedy, terrible loss and unbelievable gain, and none of them are my stories.

Writing our friends, our families, our neighbours, thinly veiled or proudly presented, is a long-standing tradition of literature.

How old is the joke that writers have no friends, only characters they haven’t yet written?

Yet, for myself, I don’t write the people I know.

The truth is, I hear these small pieces of other lives and think to myself how little of the puzzle I hold, how necessarily unfair my exposure would be without the richness of context or experience.

Others can overcome these concerns and write brilliantly and beautifully on the lives around them.

For me, my head contains realms enough that I am little tempted by the incomplete pictures around me.

Even then, I think of the stories I am told and how I am told them.

I think of the stories I’ve heard and known and see how they harm or do not harm those around me.

I think of the stories that have stood on the stage of the world and held the minds of millions.

Some stories are meant to be shared with the world, shone under a bright light and exposed.

Others are conferences of trust, small gifts of love meant to be held quietly, somewhere under the heart.

IMG_0508To tell or not to tell? The branches of choice bear interesting flowers.

I think that this is an interesting choice most writers have to make at some point in their writing career. It is certainly possible to view this in a variety of different ways.


Sentient toasters, potato men, and murderous laundry are NOT based on my life and can be found in my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

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