I have been reading out loud to my youngest five children. They are also my students as we homeschool. Three of them are teens and two are tweens. All five have listened with rapt attention as we have taken our time sauntering through the pages of C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew. We have savored the imagery and discussed his style of writing and pondered the spiritual applications.
The kids know that I’m working in every spare moment on my own fictional story. It has been slow going and in fact, years in the making. But, now, I’m at it in earnest and determined to finish with a proof copy in hand and a goal in sight of a holiday publication.
With a life as full as mine I sometimes question my choice to dedicate precious time and energy to a project that has no guarantee of success. There are moments that I feel a wee bit silly as I attempt to do what I’ve never done before but, have dreamed of since a child. I have seriously considered quitting or at least setting it aside until the children are all raised and out of school. But, then, I glance around and see my children watching.
They see me choosing to write instead of watching a little television. They see me revising chapters that I thought were complete. They see me creating characters that have real struggles. They see the delight I take from finding just the right word or phrase. They see the process.
Yesterday, during our read aloud time, one of my sons asked if we could read the first chapter of his story. I almost said no. Instead, I agreed and he asked his sister to do the reading. I listened to her and watched him carefully as she did so. He shushed the younger boys when they made a noise that might distract. He was anxious that we heard the details, that we missed none of his carefully chosen words. It was, after all, his story. His creative work. I could relate.
As the story unfolded, I heard my son’s voice, his writing voice. In many ways, unpolished and yet, uniquely his own. When the chapter had been read and comments made, my daughter that read out loud asked if we could do the same for her story tomorrow. I said we could, of course. I know full well that another son will ask for his turn next. These three, ages 12,14 & 16 this month have all followed in my footsteps. Like myself as a child, they have stories to tell and they want someone to read them.
I can’t help but wonder if there is a reason why it is at this very moment that I have set my sights on finishing. I wonder if I am somehow clearing the path for my own children who seem interested in going the same direction. Even for those who aren’t putting the proverbial pen to paper. They see me striving to complete a long-term project, achieve a dream, and finish what I started.
My audience of readers may never go far beyond my own children and family and friends. I am certainly no C.S. Lewis. There may be plenty who see my work as unpolished and imperfect. But, my children will not see me quit. And whoever reads my words will hear my voice, my unique voice that sees the world through my eyes and has a story to tell.
You may not be a writer and you may not have a slew of children but, you too have an audience, you too have a story to tell. Your story may be one of integrity in the business place or one of courage when facing seemingly insurmountable odds. Your story may be one of generosity to the needy or patience with the difficult. Your story may be one of suffering or grief, adoption or infertility, faith or discouragement. Whatever your story is, stay true to your own voice and be assured, someone is listening and it matters.
The title of my first book is How Then Shall We Live? and I’m understanding clearly that is exactly the right question to be asking myself these days. Choice after choice, I’m telling my story, using my voice. What about you? How will you tell your story?