When people ask what I do, these days, I say that I’m a writer.
Since it took me quite some time to feel comfortable with that word, writer, as a description of what I do rather than what I dream, I’m sticking with it for now. Wearing it in, so to speak, so that it fits nicely in all the right places and has that comfortably worn-in look that I used to imagine on sweaters worn by writers curling up to pen memoirs by the sea. The kind of sweater fits so perfectly and, even after all that wearing in, doesn’t look so much shabby as it does cozy. You might say I came to writing for the words but I stay for the sweaters.
So I say I’m a writer. But what I really want to say is that I am a storyteller.
Because, after all, I am. I write, sure. But really, I tell stories.
I tell stories of my children, my motherhood, our growth. I tell stories about companies and brands. I tell stories to communicate, encourage, inspire, educate.
Naturally, I want my children to tell stories too. Not in a legacy-carrying sort of way. They’ll choose their own sweaters someday and I’ll sit on my hands so as not to influence their choices of threads. But in a way that I simply want to pass on the joy of storytelling. I want them to experience the thrill of spending a perfect summer afternoon, playing in the grass against a bright blue sky, beneath a warm August sun, and then coming home to tell me all about it, every last detail. I want them grow up in the way of words, thinking carefully about word choice and striving for the right one in each moment because, whether in writing or not, it matters. I want them to live in the moment but always capture a bit as they go along, preserved in words inside their hearts.
So we play this game in the car sometimes. I start a story, she has to contribute a line and then toss it back to me and we volley the plot back and forth. Usually there are a few princesses and a birthday party involved, occasionally a baby brother and big sister. It can get tedious but I get it. Usually my stories involve a mother and her children. You write what you know.
But I wanted a way to expand. I’ve been looking to widen my storytelling scope. Perhaps my girl should too.
So last weekend, when a brown paper package arrived on our doorstep, I tore into it immediately.
We ‘read’ it that afternoon. The next day too. Taking turns, passing the pages back and forth and diving into the beautiful scene between our fingers. The main plot line didn’t vary much from day to day but the details did. Each spin through reveals a new little nugget to wrap a story around, a deeper peek into the worlds of the characters, more nooks and crannies to tuck little gems into.
And on each read, my girl caught things that I missed. Directions to take the story right there on the page that had escaped my attention.
It turns out that wordless books are an up and coming genre. A recent School Library Journal Day of Dialog held a panel about it, involving several creators of wordless books. “When you distill a book to pictures, it’s about empowerment,” said Bob Staake, author/illustrator of the wordless Bluebird. “The child becomes “a causal part of the story,” and “it doesn’t get any better.” I couldn’t agree more.
So I’m delighted to announce that Barefoot Books is giving away a copy of Out of the Blue to a Raising Humans reader! If you want to empower your children through storytelling, enter the giveaway below. And good luck!
disclaimer: I received a free copy of Out of the Blue from Barefoot Books (and now you can too!). All thoughts, ideas, and opinions are my own. Links within this post are affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you purchase a book using those links.