One Voice, One Character, One Boy in a Class Who Made Me Think
Are there any books out there, written about just one person? No friends. No animals. Just a person telling a story with no one else in it?
Last week, I taught a teen writing workshop at a public library. A student posed this question to me in class which really had my mind spinning. And as the course progressed the 90 minutes and more comments and questions like this came up, I realized this young person was going through a lot in their world.
I explained to the student my thoughts on story. How usually a writer tells something about an event that has happened and a lesson is learned. The immediate scenario I came up dealt with a dog and a bite wound. I said, “Maybe a dog bit you and you learned something from the event, bad or good.” Maybe the dog changed the whole dynamic of the moment and you simply had to tell the story because it was right there in your mind, and you couldn’t get it out.
In any case, I mentioned to this student, I didn’t know of any books written about just one person without any influence of another individual or creature. I also mentioned how I could be wrong. Something like that could exist out there, I just didn’t know of it yet.
My purpose and point I’m pondering today is two-fold. First, I’m thinking about a talent most writers I know have in feeling above and beyond, sometimes I’ve heard the term hyper-sensitive used to describe me at times. Ever known someone like that? The type of person who can live an event whether it’s a second account told from someone to this person, or a real firsthand experience so powerful the body, the mind and especially the heart, all take ownership and won’t let it go?
My mother once said, “Erika, I don’t think you should consider being a high school counselor. You’ll never leave your work alone.”
It was the time in high school when we all ponder careers and what’s next for us in life. In the moment, I decided she was right. But just because I didn’t seek out that career, doesn’t mean I don’t use my feelings about people in other ways.
The ability to feel more than most, makes writing and art and music so real. I don’t want to discount other careers. It seems like if you enjoy your work you can also elicit a similar feeling in yourself and spread it to others.
So what do you do when you come across an event where you stop and are yanked straight from your own life? My second point. The constant tug many of us have to help when and where we can. I’ve realized through life we all have our own paths. Hills and valleys. And I may never understand the why in how some people have it worse than others. I may never be able to stop someone from experiencing a moment of pain or hurt as much as I would like. All I know is I can do my best and give my best to make it a little happier for someone else in my own doable way, a huge lesson I have had to learn.
So back to the student in my writing workshop last week.
I asked this person at the end or the 90 minutes, what they had learned. He tilted his chin my way. A grin graced his face. As I leaned closer, I thought he said, “A lot. There’s a lot of good stuff to think about here that’s different and new.” He thanked me. He smiled again. And that was a really great gift right back to me. Maybe in my workshop I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do for these students, this boy and his brother, but at least I walked away feeling like I did do a little bit of good.
So shine wherever you are. Make it the best that you can. Because sometimes, your best can bring out the best in someone else. To me, that feels pretty darn awesome.
Happy Friday, all. May your day be graced with bits of happy.