Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Writing to Tell-Taryn Hutchison

Sharing Your Story with Others (Writing to Tell)

Let’s face it. You won’t all write books or articles or even want to seek publication. Some of you may think a writer’s blog has nothing to do with where you are in life. But I know that every one of you has a story to tell. I mean, what are missionaries if not communicators? Every day, you communicate, with words and with deeds, describing a Friend to others who don’t know Him yet. You write to your ministry partners, painting pictures with your words of life in another land. You inspire people with glimpses, both small and great, of God’s fingerprints.

“God created man because he loves stories," wrote Elie Wiesel, Nobel prizewinner and Romanian-born Holocaust survivor. While that may not be theologically sound, I like thinking that God loves our stories.

So far, we’ve talked about writing for ourselves. Journals are just for you, a way to process and bring clarity out of confusion. Today we’ll talk about sharing your stories with others so you can help them process. Your voice is unique. No one has had the exact experiences you have had. Just think, your story can help someone in a way that no one else’s story can.

When God comforts you in a profound way and you share it, He takes that and uses it to comfort others. Your role is to interpret how you’ve seen God at work so others will be encouraged and He will be glorified. Novelist Marcel Proust wrote, "The duty and the task of a writer are those of an interpreter."

Every time you’re on home leave, you’re asked to share your stories out loud with people. That’s wonderful. The problem is that sometimes they forget, or they get lost in the details, or they’re distracted and they only catch part of it. I used to tell people all about Romania, and then for Q&A, they’d ask about Russia! When your story is written down, it’s permanent. It can be read and re-read. The act of writing helps you organize your thoughts and stay on track as you speak, whether you refer to your notes or not, whether the group is small or large. As you practice, it becomes a ready tool in your arsenal to pull out whenever the need arises.

Have you noticed how people often use highfalutin words when they speak in church? When you write out your story, imagine yourself speaking to one specific person who’ll be in the audience. Write it with the words you would use to tell it. Make it sound natural, not stilted, as though you’re talking with a friend over a cup of coffee.

Last year, when my book was under production, I told a story in my theology class about how God used my friend Bobby’s death in my life and it touched people so deeply, I was asked to share it in church. Days before the service, I ran into a church friend at a café who asked me to tell her the story. She encouraged me that we may each have just one life story and suggested that Bobby’s tale could be that story for me. This chance encounter occurred the day before the corrections to my final typeset copy were due. I thought, this may be my only book and it should include my one story. I found a place to insert the abbreviated version of the story just in time, in God’s perfect timing.

Do you have a story which touches people? Makes them laugh? Causes them to “get” it? Whether it’s your one life story or not, it’s a story which God loves and He can use for His glory.

A Challenge:

List three stories from your whole life that you love to tell. Then think of three stories from your present ministry.

Choose one of the stories you listed. Imagine yourself telling this story to a friend. Write it out as you would say it. If you have any questions during the writing process, please post your questions!

A Contest:

The week of December 1-8, send a 300-500 word story from your life to editor@womenoftheharvest.com. Cindy Blomquist (WOTH Editor) and I will read them and declare the first literary winner from the WOTH Writer’s Blog. The prize will be a $20 iTunes gift card and a spot in the March/April issue of the WOTH onlineMagazine! Just in time for Christmas.

[Editor’s note: Who knows what will happen with the rest!]


Anonymous said...

Count me in! I'll submit something...not sure what yet. I'm enjoying this blog. Thanks.

Tish said...

How exciting! Now, the hard part, which one do I work on??


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