It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the sun has some climbing to do before it reaches the horizon. The house quakes in the wind and I’m unaccountably sad that there are trucks collecting garbage in the freezing darkness of rural New York November. Somehow it seems tragic and strange that we live in a world that doesn’t have enough daylight hours to deal with its trash.
Perhaps my cozy, privileged little bout of worry is forcing story into the hands of those hardened waste collection warriors.
It’s just a paycheck, lady, they might say. You keep to your words and those gigantic cups of tea, and we’ll work at the edges of the day to keep the world running smooth enough for the storytellers and the dreamers and mothers and all the rest who create pretty things for a living. After all, someone has to keep clearing away the scraps to reveal all that beauty you’re looking for.
Stories always find a way. Stories help us find the way.
That. That right there. That little paragraph is proof that there are stories waiting to be revealed in every conversation – real or imagined. Stories lurk in every moment of reflection. Stories even hide in the noisy blackness of a Hudson Valley back road at six AM.
Stories guide us toward the dawn. Stories anchor our worries and our blessings so they become real enough to be spoken aloud.
I didn’t wake up this early to fret over America’s waste problem or its labor practices, though both would be worthy preoccupations in their own time. I’m at my desk because I’m sleepless with stories and gratitude.
I’m here to offer 15 tiny gifts that are all more enduring than the latest soul shaking headline or the worries that race through your mind.
Each story you read, each story you write: it’s a gift.
Early in 2016, 15 writers answered a call.
Fifteen writers joined me for my frightfully ambitious #365StrongStories project. Each contributed a story – of birthing, of dying, of living in spite of all the pain that these simple events bring forth.
With their contributions, each writer lightened the burden of a daily writing project that ended up demanding too much from me. After well over one hundred posts, in May I abandoned my promise to tell a story each day. My life wasn’t designed to produce and publish a story 365 times in a row. I’m not sure that anyone who is dedicated to tending and protecting her creative source would want to force herself into such an arrangement.
But the writers who joined me were doing so much more than helping an overcommitted #365project sister out. Each story was a gift: for me, for the readers, and for the writer who gave herself permission to lavish attention on her own tale.
It’s not to be taken lightly, this work of shaping ideas into something that has a beginning, middle, and end. Turning twenty-six letters into a code we can all understand and then deftly splicing and slicing the words in their own divinely inspired order so that they make a story… that’s alchemy. And alchemy is transformational magic.
15 short story shaped gifts for you & yours this Thanksgiving
And so, now that the sky is brightening and it’s time to launch my girls into one more school day before the Thanksgiving break, I want to take a moment to thank each writer and to offer their stories to you as the gifts that they are.
Before the family arrives, before you’re up to your elbows in stuffing and sage, and before you have that next glass of wine, read a few of these stories.
May they offer comfort. May they offer inspiration. May they remind you of what you have lost and what you still might find.
Meet the #365StrongStories guest storytellers
Read Doubt and Annie D. by Suzi Banks Baum when you’re rumbling with creativity, self-doubt, and missing your babies.
Read Knowing Motherhood by Barb Buckner Suárez when you’re struggling to find your own voice while still honoring those who taught you to speak.
Read Echo Grandma by Evelyn Asher if you’re separated from your loved ones and are seeking creative ways to connect.
Read When Elder Becomes Child by Tania Pryputniewicz if you’re carrying a parent as you hold tight to stories of the way life used to be.
Read The Woman and Her Irishman by Brenna Layne if you have an ancestral mystery to solve.
Read Traveling Distances by Peggy Acott when you’re journeying to a meal you’re never going to forget.
Read Luis: A Study in Breath by Liz Hibala because we share this holiday with our animal companions too.
Read As I Remember It by Ginny Taylor because the past is often full of pain and survival and we need to honor those memories.
Read The Inconvenient Allure of Solitude by Maia Macek if you just want to slip away from the table to be blissfully alone.
Read Dance Camp by Sara Eisenberg because you need to experience your body through movement, not through overeating.
Read Walking Home by Dawn Montefusco because you need to root into your core beliefs… especially when certain members of the family start talking politics.
Read Stand Here by Stan Stewart if someone in your family is struggling with addiction.
Read The Martyrville Messenger by Lois Kelly if a loved one’s illness keeps you close to home this year.
Read Up the Mountain by Sharon Rosen to dive into the sensations of the body and savor the blissful and the brutal.
Read Never Evens by Kelsey Rakes to prepare yourself for the unexpected – especially if you’re expecting.
Are you ready to tell your own authentic, compelling stories? Learn how the Story Triangle can transform your writing and your practice.