I was a very reluctant participant in the writing of my very first story. I was pushed by a friend who had more confidence in me than I had in myself. The more I resisted, the more she pushed. She thought I had a story that should be told, and unbeknownst to me it did turn out to be one worth telling. When I protested saying, “I don’t know nothing about writing a book!” she found someone to guide me through the process from the cover to the epilogue. In the beginning I walked this literary path in fear, not knowing what I was doing or why. My first story shared one of the most painful periods in my life. However, I found that sharing my pain was not only helpful to others, but it was so good for my own soul.
If we are truly blessed, God will send those who see something inside of us that we so often cannot see in ourselves. So with this Godsent Sista, my journey to becoming, not just an author, but a Story Artisan began. Along the way, something almost supernatural happened that I certainly wasn’t looking or hoping for. I became an a craftswoman of stories – chosen to build stories for others.
Four published books and fifteen years later, my literary life continued to expand as my confidence in my writing grew. I became pretty skillful first in writing and editing my own work, and then others began to ask me to help them on their writing journeys. I was falling in love with this writing process.
One layer at a time I was becoming an architect of words. I discovered that building a story was a lot like building a house must be – beginning with a good foundation. That foundation can be the message that the author wants to deliver (inspirational, informative, historical) or a particular genre such as a thriller, a love story, or a book that delivers a spiritual message. This was not something that I was working to become; It just happened. As others came for assistance it seemed as if each time God would plant in me a new level of knowledge with which I could help build an even better story than the one before. This unexpected and unintended gift was also helping me to build a business as my client list grew.
However, this was never about money for me, although I have come to understand the value of being paid for my work and my time. It has always been and continues to be about helping others to tell their authentic stories , and do what they didn’t believe they could do – just like I felt before I actually wrote my first book — with a push and a shove.
The day I actually held my first book in my hands was an overwhelmingly emotional one for me – I just boo-hooed! These were tears of joy, a feeling of being accomplished, and of knowing that this was just the beginning of a new journey… I had many miles to go before I could sleep. I had just taken the first step; and one step at a time I would continue to stretch and grow. I had been writing my stories, in my voice, and in my own unique style. I now had to learn how to help others to find their voices and their styles. They came with the stories.
As a new artisan, I grappled with what I was even going to call myself. It had taken years for me to acknowledge myself as a writer, then as an author. Now, as I began to point others in the direction of their dreams, their stories, I have questioned myself — am I a writer, an editor, a ghost writer; what…? I just wasn’t sure at first. I, without knowing it, was developing into a combination of all of them. I was helping those trying to tell their stories to first find their spiritual compasses. They had to determine all of the following before the journey began:
What message did they intend to deliver?
What voice/voices would be telling the story?
How would they take their ideas and thoughts and put them into words that would tell a cohesive, interesting, and hopefully moving story?
It seemed as if each person who came to me for help in writing a book ended up having a special bond with me as if it was intended for us to walk this journey together.
I’ve never liked the term ghost as it applies to writers. The original meaning of ghost means the soul of a dead person. Also, in urban vernacular ghosting has a negative connotation – ceasing a relationship with a partner without notice. I choose, therefore, to use the term Story Artisan to represent my relationship with those with whom I work to craft their words into stories. These are their words that have been shoved into boxes, under beds, and into closets, or just stored away in their heads, struggling in some way, to see those words spewed out and onto pages of a book they’ve longed to give birth to. They just didn’t know where or how to begin.
So, with my pen in hand I listened, working to absorb the voice, tone, and feelings of this birthing author. We both worked until we fell into a unified rhythm, like two strangers learning to dance with each other. First stepping on each other’s toes and awkwardly searching for our point of syncopation – our groove, if you will. Then, in due time, we find it… that musical blend that brings their words and my skills, learned over time and error, to the beginnings of each one’s story. It really has been a magical thing that I love doing over and over again.
As I write this, I think of the natural beauty that must be the experience of a doula, a woman who provides guidance and support to the mother of a newborn baby. However, I feel that same kind of beauty while a storyteller and I build their story together. That’s why I chose to call myself a story artisan. It brings me so much joy to assist in crafting one beautiful story after another. As much as I have enjoyed writing my own stories, I think I like helping others tell their stories even more.
Each experience I’ve had thus far has had its own unique rhythm, some more bumpy than others. However, when the books were finished and the story was finally birthed we both were spent, but felt so happy about the finished product.