May 30, 2016

Stories: Big Or Small Or Medium-Sized

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I’ve been attending and hosting a few different talks lately around London. I love this part of what I do. It’s one of my favourite things because I get to talk and listen, and meet new people. I LOVE CHATS. I’ve been hosting panels, or sitting on panels, or interviewing on stage – basically it’s an IRL version of what I love doing for my podcast (talking to people and asking them questions about creativity and careers). Learning. Listening. Sharing.

Something that made me a bit sad on a few occasions, was a recurring question (or theme, I suppose) from people I’d meet. Here are some of the things that a few people who attended the event said, as we’d have a glass of wine afterwards. We’d discuss. I would think about it again on the way home.

“I wish I could write something. But I’m not that interesting.”

or

“I would write, but I have nothing to say.”

or

“My life is dull. I have no stories to tell.”

I had so many thoughts on this.

Two conflicting thoughts mainly:

You don’t have to be interesting to write an interesting story. 

and,

But, we are all interesting.

What if we are all interesting.

What if we all have a story.

I truly believe we all do.

It doesn’t mean all our lives will get turned into blockbuster films. I am no Erin Brokovich. I have accepted this will never happen. (WHAT A WOMAN. WHAT A STORY.)

It’s OK not to have a BIG, MAD, BAD LIFE.

I think the smaller, quieter aspects of life are interesting too. Don’t you?

We all have things and topics and experiences and themes to write about. Everyone’s experiences are valid and we’ve all learned something a long the way. Sometimes we can train ourselves into finding things to write about on demand.

I just read a book called “Ego Is The Enemy”. This book outlines the damage in believing anyone is more special or worthy or more important. They aren’t. If anyone tries to make you feel less important or insignificant, just breathe: it’s just not true.

There are a few things that have happened to me that I think are interesting. Interesting enough for me to just want to write them down into a book, but I would never have done it if I had crippled myself into thinking my thoughts weren’t valid.

(I am also now DRY as a bone after writing those fourteen chapters).

[Most of life is fucking boring].

[Life will not always be A Viral Essay.]

The contents page of my book – my chapters – are all things made me feel and made me learn. And being a human-being meant I had a burning desire to pass them on. That, for me, came in the form of writing. Writing makes things interesting. Just the act of writing them down and playing with the words makes it all a bit more interesting.

We read blogs and words and watch videos from normal people. We want to know more about the people around us, not just The Big Sparkling Lives Of Celebrities.

Also: being a woman (all these comments above came from young women) echoes the fact that for years we have been told our stories or opinions aren’t interesting. Especially those who experience more intense forms of oppression and marginalization than I do. I write because it’s my small act of saying: my thoughts are valid. As a woman I am valid. As a human-being with a certain number of years on earth I am valid. I am valid. This is a message I always want to spread, to everyone.

You are valid, and so is everything (big or small) that has ever happened to you. People like hearing other people’s stories. We would never see no to sitting around a campfire.

To the people who say “I’m not interesting” – you are. You are so interesting. The smallest thing could be more intriguing or fascinating to someone. I bet there is something you thought of late at night that someone would love to hear. I bet there is something you could be ashamed of that if other people read they could feel less alone. Something that one day, you will be ready to share. There might be something you are curious about, that has not yet been written much about. It could be you to start a new conversation. There is so much to discuss right now. And no one else is you.

Sometimes life is not interesting and that is why we watch films, tell stories of the past, re-watch the same Shakespeare plays re-told thousands of times, or write fiction.

I believe the truth is always stranger than fiction.

A lot of people have no desire to write their story. They may have no impulse to write it even though they have had an extraordinary life. But if you have a desire to write, to share, to create, there is always something to write about. It might take a while to locate the story, but it is there. Write anyway.

We are unique and at the same time we are not unique. That is why we tell stories. That is why stories are universal.

We are not special snowflakes.

But we are all interesting.

  • This was fascinating to read, Emma, and that book on the ego sounds like something I need to read. When I look at my favourite blogs, they’re all regular people going about their regular lives and telling other people about what they get up to. Their honesty and openness and ability to just be themselves is what draws in readers, but I know for one that it’s easy to forget when you’re the one on the other side ‘creating the content’. Thank you for this post. It’s made me want to write.

  • Samantha

    I have been wanting to write something for many years but my problem is that I keep reading amazing books and although I love nothing more than finding an amazing book and talking to people about it, it makes me feel demotivated and completely defeated that I will never be able to write something that good. I become baffled as to how the author came up with their idea. My boyfriend is always asking me when am I going to write something as he knows I love literature and I used to write when I was young, but my reply is a always ‘I don’t have any good ideas yet’. I feel like it can’t be forced, that one day it will just come to me the way that ‘To kill a mocking bird’ just came to Harper Lee. My fear is that it will never come. The older I get more I resign myself to the fact that I probably won’t ever be a great author. Writing has lost its enjoyment and is now just something that causes me stress as I can’t seem to get out of me what I feel inside. 🙁

  • Oh thank you so much for this post,Emma!
    I am writing since i was a little girl and had a big break,a really big about 10 years :D, and now i am constantly putting my pen down because i think it´s not good enough..but really it´s not that important… i bet many authors are writing ten versions of the story before they are really happy..i have to remind myself to just keep writing even if no one ever reads it 🙂

  • I’m trying to up my game in terms of writing lately – and I thought, what if its not good enough?! But the simple fact I try is enough I think.

    All of the blogs I read and enjoy have something different about them. Some I got to for the writing, some for the outfit inspiration and some for the creative kick up the ass!

  • This was really refreshing to read. I’ve been a causal reader of your blog for a couple of months and I’m often impressed by your thoughts and point of view. This conflicting battle between feeling like everyone is unique in their own special way and yet we are all similar is something I’ve spend time thinking about before.

    This was beautifully written and I hope that it reaches the people who need to hear it most. The ones that doubt they are valid and worth listening too. In all honestly, almost everyone needs a reminder like this – so thank you so much for putting it into words.

  • I absolutely love this post! You’re so incredible thankyou!

  • What a gorgeous true post. Even as a professional writer I can totally identify with this!

    A comment for Samantha. I can speak from experience to say that all writers feel that – the gap between what you want to express and what you actually do. But also, why not write about that? About your everyday life and how you want to write and how it’s not coming? Start a blog, write anonymously, write a diary. That’s how I started. Anyway, thanks again Emma for the inspiration.

  • I am still learning this as I try to grow past my blog and share more content. This was perfectly said.

  • Matilda

    I love this Emma. At school writing always filled me with such anxiety because I didn’t believe I could write in the ‘right’ way or come up with anything as good and interesting as the person next to me. Now I finally understand that anyone can write. If you are literate then you have the power to write something, even if it’s not in the perfect essay format that they enforce during education. In fact, none of the best things I’ve read have ever been in a perfect essay format! Thank you for writing this post and for creating an all-round inspiring blog!

  • I read this post at just the right time, as I’m starting my blogging journey and worrying about not having enough fascinating or special content to make my posts worth reading… thank you for this!! I’ve come away from reading it feeling a little bit braver as a new blogger, and feeling like maybe I do have something to say that someone else will want to read. Thank you for cheering me up today.
    Emilie xxx
    http://www.emiliewalker.com

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