Write the stories you want to hear

Write the Stories that you want to hear

In response to the movie, The Butler, someone commented on a blog that he was sick and tired of always seeing African Americans portrayed in roles of servitude and more importantly being applauded and celebrated for these portrayals. He ranted that there were hundreds of stories to be told, and not one of them was about a Black man serving dinner and coffee to rich White folks while decked out in tie and tux. It seems we rest comfortably around the same ‘ole stories, this writer suggested.

I can’t argue that many stories seem duplicates of others. We go with what’s brewing in pop culture or continue on in the vein of what we already know works. But the thing is, stories are about empowerment. Fiction writing in particular allows us to create based on experiences and that which is a reflection of our beliefs, hopes or curiosity.  These stories satisfy that inner self.  And whether I’m telling my story about my abusive husband or a fantasy about the guy in 1B it is somehow all a part of me. Perhaps you can’t relate or don’t want to hear it, perhaps my story depresses you or you’re so over tales of domestic trysts. But it is my hope and that of all writers that our perspective will be fresh and inviting and that our spin on things will enlighten you further or inform you more.

Yes, it’s true that the market can seem saturated with the same stories. I mean how many stories about failing sports teams pushing past adversity can one person see without their eyes rolling back in their heads? Remember the Titans, is a football team rising above racial segregation and discrimination; We are the Marshalls is a team triumphing in the wake of tragic death of a group of their teammates; Friday Night Lights documents a small Texas town’s obsession with their teams and the game of football. Yes, each story is about football. But each story is about more than football. And there you have the uniqueness of each tale and more than likely the reason the storyteller decided it was important to tell it.  All the stories highlight different themes, times and places in history and all are relevant. The passion of the writer, director and producer thought that their movie story hadn’t quite been told (O.K., money was kinda important but still…).

And more importantly most often we tell the stories of which we are passionate about. We tell OUR stories. We may draw from those around us or from something that was simply peddling around in our imagination. And if you change your story to tell one that will tickle the fancy of a critic, your creativity and imagination and the passion that drives you are all in some way undermined.

I’ll often have a friend or acquaintance, say to me, “boy do I have a story for you.” Most often it is not the story for me; it may be intriguing or begging to be written, but fiction and even non-fiction is unlike journalism it that the writer has to feel a need or an urge to write it. In other words, we need to care about it. Stephen King gets to choose his subjects, Gayle King doesn’t; she tells the stories given to her.

The thing is to let the story drive you, move you and motivate you. And for those of you who haven’t seen or heard the story that you want to hear, do as Terry McMillan did and write it or collaborate with someone who can write it for you. But dog nab it whatever you do don’t complain because someone else is telling theirs. Go on…write it…we are waiting. We would love to hear what you have to say.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you.