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The Power of Writing

Originally published at Through the Tollbooth. Please leave any comments there.

Very soon, there is an anthology coming out that I helped edit. It’s called DEAR BULLY (Harper Collins), and in it are 70 authors’ stories, true stories, real stories of being bullied or bullying or watching.

The authors are fiction authors, children’s book authors, but the stories that they are writing here are true.

And it was hard for them. Some of them told me that it was the hardest thing they’ve ever written. That got me thinking, which of course is extremely dangerous and can only occur in five second bursts before I have to stop and get Nutella. But anyway, it made me think about every time we write anything ( a blog, a poem, a picture book, a novel) we take this gigantic risk, and it’s so scary.

And it made me feel incredibly proud of those writers who took a double leap. They wrote about something personal, something true, in a genre many had never written before. And why did they do it? Every single one pretty much said that they were doing it because they wanted to help. They hoped that their story could help a kid connect, help a kid realize that pain isn’t something that only happens to herself or himself.

That’s powerful.

Whether its bullying stories or a story about a giant peach or a boy wizard or a girl who is crushing on another girl, the stories we write have the power to touch readers, to hit their marrow with truth, but only, only if we have the courage to face those truths in ourselves and our stories.

A reviewer of DEAR BULLY was very kind, but she said in the review that you didn’t have to read the anthology all the way through, that there was a certain sameness in the stories, and that made me happy (even though I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be a positive). That sameness means that the truth is there, resonating in the stories. It’s like a refrain that you can hear not just in that anthology but in all powerful stories and poems (fiction, non). It’s a tiny bit of human experience, of consciousness, that binds us all together.

I feel so lucky to be a writer, because I have the hope that some day my own stories will be part of touching that truth. That’s my end goal. It’s a little hard to quantify. I’m sure I’d be much happier if my end goal was like #1 on the New York Times Bestseller’s list, cause you know when that happens. (Your editor calls screaming to tell you.)

How about you? Any stories that resonated for you? Poems? Books that made you feel – “Yes, this is part of human experience. Yes, this is truth.”