What a Storyteller is Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope all of you are relaxing and enjoying this time with family and friends. If you’re like me and working in a little personal writing and editing projects today, enjoy! For some reason, ever since I was a kid, I found holidays a great time to sneak in a little writing or reading that I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t yet. So if you’re sneaking off after all that food to read or write a little, I’m with you!

I’ve had a lot to be thankful for this past year — all the new, fantastic and passion-filled projects I’ve had a chance to work on; all the great organizations, clubs and small businesses I’ve engaged with; all the new friends and connections I’ve met — but I want to turn my focus today on what a storyteller is thankful for (or for what a storyteller is thankful, but seriously, no one would say that in daily speech). As writers, filmmakers and editors, it’s important to take time and recognize the people and groups who help our projects come to life. The following list is from my perspective, but I hope my fellow writers and storytellers will agree on some of these:

  • Our God-given talent and passion. Obviously, we wouldn’t be who we are without our love for stories and our ability to communicate them to our audience. This is something nobody can take away from us, unless we get in our own way. Remember that!
  • Mentors. I am certainly thankful for my family, friends, bosses and professors who encouraged me along the way, and who, to this day, continue to support my endeavors.
  • Our community and peers (including all writing programs). Our community of writers and storytellers is vital to our success, whether we found them on our own or through formal writing programs. Regardless of which types of stories we tell, we all understand each other and what it’s like to hit a rough patch. We are also the first to support each other — the Chicago writing scene is proof of that. I am certainly thankful for the writing community that has sprung up in Chicago and which hosts many great events to support local writers.
  • Independent presses and other independent groups. Independent, small businesses are a great home for us. Gone are the days when you could only see success with a big, corporate entity. Small and independent is the way to go, and it will help ensure your project is seen and heard in a way that makes you proud.
  • Our critics. Yeah, they suck and they make us angry, but we wouldn’t be where we are without our critics. Maybe we learned a valuable lesson from them, or maybe they are just excellent motivators. If all people did was praise us, would we keep going? Or would we just get bored and have nothing to say?
  • People who have ridiculously loud public conversations or act ridiculous in public. Seriously, you get so many great ideas from these people! You can form a whole character based on something you heard on the street — or you end up with a great idea for a documentary.
  • The Legends. Let’s not forget the ones who came before us and who continue to inspire to us. They are likely the people whose work you go to when you need a lift, and they are probably the ones who wrote the book of advice you’ve come to rely on. (Anyone else a huge fan of Bird by Bird?)
  • Our subjects and our audience. Nonfiction storytellers are always grateful for those who took the time to share their stories with us, so that we might share them with others. And of course, don’t forget the people who listen to all of our stories — they are the ones who keep us going, and who we also hope to help in some way.

So, storytellers, what did I miss? I hope you all enjoy your holiday, and that it leaves you with many stories to tell!

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