This week, I had the privilege of speaking before a group of women who have joined together in what is called The Passion Project. What binds them is their individual and collective desire to inspire and be inspired, to find ways to advance in the direction of their dreams, and to listen to the ways their mind and body are connected, informing who they are and how they should live.
In asking me to speak, they asked me, simply, to share my story. So I did. I talked about growing up in a housing project, only dreaming of becoming a writer, not knowing it could actually become a possibility, never mind a reality. I told them how, just when life was coming together and I'd found my first agent for my first novel, I was in a boating accident that shattered my back and nearly left me paralyzed and how I would need to heal from that before thinking about writing again. And how, conversely, I used writing to heal. I shared insights and lessons and laid myself open before this warm and spirited group.
We are our stories. As writers we need to understand that we don't only tell stories, we live them. When we pull back the curtain on our lives and make ourselves vulnerable to others, we build a foundation of interested readers. If we want to have others interested in our writing, we have to let them in. We have to be willing to give talks and show who we are not just what we're doing.
I encourage every writer to take opportunities to share your personal experiences, even when it feels hard, even when you think you have nothing "special" to say. You'll be surprised at how inspiring you can be and how, in return, you will be inspired.