by Kerry Kerr McAvoy
Why do you write? Do you dream of seeing your name on a book’s spine? Maybe you’d love to see yourself at a podium reading a passage that you wrote? Or receiving a big royalty check?
The Role of Books in My Life
Stories, as books, novellas, and essays, have played a significant role in my life.
When I was a kid, free time was a luxury of the summer months. My mother used to take my sisters and me to the local library for our weekly crop of books. I’d walked out of the building with my arms full. I’d have to peer over the top one as it teetered back and forth to keep from running into something.
Just before our annual vacation trip, I would check out the library’s maximum number of books allowed. Each year we headed north into Canada’s wilderness, where we would park an RV in some remote location. The nearest store or restaurant would be hours away. Our supply of food and entertainment had to last for the next two weeks.
If my sisters and I were getting along, we might coordinate our book choices to expand the overall selection. They would be sure to pick some titles I liked; I would do the same.
It was a big decision to figure out which book I’d read first. Each story beckoned to me. I would read the back cover descriptions several times to see which captured my imagination the most.
Then I pick my favorite—the one I would read first. It couldn’t be right away, though. I had to wait until the vacation officially started. Not until our RV was on the road and headed north was I allowed to crack open the book and sink into the story’s fantastical world.
Books Communicate a Bigger Truth
There are many kinds of books: technical, educational, and literary. My favorites, of course, are those that tell stories. They have informed me, shaped some of my opinions, and broadened my perspective; I’ve been educated and entertained. They have made me laugh, cry, get upset, and angry.
I recently was listening to Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass on Writing. He said something that caught my attention. Storytelling is essentially lying. We make up a tale that requires the reader to suspend belief. Yet, there’s a reason for this—to communicate a bigger truth.
As a psychologist, I find this process fascinating. Why bother to use this means to connect with others? What’s so magical about storytelling? Well, for one reason it impacts our neurology differently. Research has found “character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points … and enable better recall of these points weeks later.” It activates both hemispheres of our brain and causes a release of a bonding neurochemical oxytocin. As we connect to the character, we become a member of the universal community.
Stories Can Bridge Gaps
I’ve been drawn to the power of stories for as long as I can remember. My home life was odd. At the time, I didn’t know that except to recognize something was different about us. The only way my father communicated was through barked orders or lengthy stories. I usually sat beside him at the dinner table and listened to his tales.
“Dad, remember the time…” I’d begin. Without missing a beat, my dad would laugh and regale us with the detail of one of his wild escapes.
Since the recent diagnosis of autism, I now realize my father most likely also had the same condition and suffered impaired communication skills. Storytelling bridged the gap that this disorder had created. It provided a powerful way for the two of us to relate on an emotional level.
I write for a lot of reasons. Yes, money and notoriety are two of my motivators. But the biggest reason is to connect to you, my reader. There is a special intimacy in sharing stories. Through words, I communicate I can share my hopes, dreams, and fears, and then you, in turn, inhabit them as you read my words. And at the moment, we connect in mysterious and powerful ways.
Isn’t that amazing?
Our New Podcast Launch
Today Ashley Shannon and I are launching a new podcast, How to Publish Your Book. This first week we introduce ourselves and share a bit about our writing journey.
Both of us have been writing for a while but are still in the beginning phases of our careers. We have self-published and are regular bloggers. And both of us have plans to traditionally publish.
We plan to share our journey with you. Each week we will share practical how-to’s, tips, and our experience with what works and what doesn’t. We have learned some things the hard way and through some successes.
There are many ways to join us.
In a few weeks, we will launch various levels of engagement. These will include weekly handouts, an active discord community with direct access to us, weekly live Q & A forum, and Ask Me Anything one-on-one calls.
Be sure to listen for the launch of these exciting member benefits.
So, that brings me back to my initial question:
What motivates you to write?
Each week we will offer a worksheet as a handy resource to our sponsors. This week’s is available complimentary.
Download Our PDF Worksheet – available to all Patreon Sponsors: