“What’s your story?” they asked. We all looked blankly back.
What story do you share? Which story is relevant?
The one we tell the other moms on the playground? The one we reserve for interviews?
We’re human, right? We’re made up of stories.
So which ones should we share?
Did you know that stories are 22 times more memorable than facts?
Did you know that stories not only shape how others see you, but they can be a tool of power? You can use stories to influence your relationships and your interactions with others.
I learned all of this at a fantastic session on storytelling put together by the Stanford Clayman Institute for Gender Research. The wonderful people there have put together a series of short lessons designed to bring to everyone the knowlege readily available to the upper echelons of corporations.
I was one of the lucky beta testers for some of these sessions. It was at the last one, the one on harnessing the power of stories, that I stopped to really think about which stories I share with the world.
I thought I had a lot of stories and that it would be hard to choose, but there’s really only one I want to tell.
My grandfather was a writer. My father is a writer… and as for me? It’s taken me a while to get here, but now that my book is about to be published, I’m finally ready to also call myself a writer.
At the end of the class, the teacher encouraged us to think about our stories and to not be afraid to change them if need be.
Now, while I’m quite happy with the story about me, the story that I felt less sure about what the other story I share with the world.
Here’s how that exchange usually goes.
“Oh? You wrote a book? That’s awesome! What’s it about?”
“Oh, you know, it’s just a women’s fiction novel. It’s about this girl who goes to Hawaii to renew her wedding vows and gets to the hotel and discovers that her past love is there. She has to come to terms with her past so she can get on with her future.” I say it all while making desperate shooing motions with my hands and not making eye contact with the person interested.
If I said “Don’t LOOOK at me! Don’t ask about my BABY. Don’t JUDGE me!” any louder people would have to cover their ears.
This is the story I need to change. This is the story I must change. I have to, because I’m so proud of this book that I’m about to deliver to the world. I’m terrified to share it, but oh so excited at the same time. I want you to read it. I want you to love it.
So I really need to sell it better.
I need to change the story I tell when people ask me about my book.
I’m thinking of going with something like this.
“Oh! It’s awesome. It’s the story of a girl whose heart was broken and then mended. It’s the story of three friends, one love triangle, a kidnapping, a shark, and a mother/daughter relationship gone awry. It’s about love, life, and growing up and it all takes place in Hawaii.”
Better story, right?