On our kitchen counter, on the ledge just behind the sink, there sits a small, odd-looking snowman. It was on our counter in the old house and I made sure to move it when we came to the new house. Why? Because it makes me smile.
There is a story behind this little snowman. My daughter, Kaelynn, made it in a kindergarten art class last year. When compared to the other students’ snowmen, Kaelynn’s was ridiculously tiny and required some seriously refined fine motor skills, something with which Kaelynn usually struggles.
The very first time I saw it sitting in the hallway at school, I giggled out loud. It’s so tiny and imperfectly perfect. When we were finally allowed to bring it home, I perched it on the counter and made sure I always knew where it was. I wanted to smile every time that I looked at it.
Telling the story
I used a letter to my grandma to tell the story of this snowman, Kaelynn and how it made me feel. I included a picture of it so she could see it in her mind’s eye.
When someone asks me my occupation, I want to say, “I tell stories.” That’s not really true. I do communications and marketing work. I strategize, hypothesize, analyze, but also, I tell stories.
I was in for a job interview for my most recent job, and really, my platform was, “let’s market this by telling stories.” That’s what I know how to do. So, I find the stories of students who have success with online programs. I find the stories of the faculty who are doing unique work. At my other job, I find the stories of members of the church who are making a difference in the community. I ask questions, I have a conversation, I listen–and then I write that story, their story.
Everyone has a story. Their stories are the little picture of a much bigger world. I’m thrilled just to be a part of it.
How do you tell the story?
Have you ever seen Dateline? Or 20/20 or any of those news shows? You have to think like that. You’re going to take the nut of the story and tell it in an attention-getting way that’s going to make readers, or viewers, wanting more.
It was a dark night on the farm. A new moon. The land was only lit by the dim light of the stars. But there on the horizon, there was a blob. I couldn’t make out exactly what it was, but it was breathing heavily and seemed to be in pain.
Don’t you want to read on to find out what the blob is and why it might be in pain?
If that were my story, I’d back up. I’d leave that lead alone and tell the reader why I’m at the farm in the first place, but that’s just me. The beauty of telling a story is that as long as it has a beginning, middle and end, it can be written a million different ways.
So, this letter writing month, write your story. Write someone else’s story. Write an entirely made up story. It doesn’t matter. Just write the story.