A Love of Writing or Storytelling?

A close up shot of a computer keyboardOn the approach to retirement, when I was asked what my future plans were, without really thinking about it, I always answered “writing”.

For as long as I can remember, with every passing year, I became increasingly aware that writing was my life’s purpose.

I was the kid whose bedroom was referred to as a “firetrap” due to the abundance of paper “masterpieces” scattered everywhere. I was the budding (but bad) poet in university. I was also the employee who raised his hand when management was looking for volunteers for challenging writing assignments.

Over the course of producing and editing thousands of pages of material for different executives and for different target audiences, I always felt more energized when completing writing assignments than with any other tasks. To me, that was a clear sign.

But it was only recently, during a drive to the city, that I realized that I might not have accurately articulated my retirement plans. Someone on the radio mentioned the word “storyteller”. This was a mind blowing moment for me, as it offered an important distinction I was missing.

In retirement, the suggestion comes up from time to time that if I love writing so much, why don’t I offer my services as a writer, either as a consultant or for community work. When that happens, in my head, I hear tires screeching to a sudden stop. Why is that?

To me, someone who loves to write could indeed make their mark in the gig economy, freelancing with paid (or even unpaid) writing assignments, and feel completely fulfilled doing so.

In theory, that could be me as I love the craft of working with words and ideas. I also enjoy working with clients to ensure that the final product is exactly what they want and that the product meets the needs of their intended target audience.

Over a career full of interesting writing assignments, I learned so much along the way, always chalking it up as preparation for when it is my turn to write.

Then I finally got the memo: my turn to write = my turn to share my stories.

I actually aspired to be a storyteller.

The stories I want to write aren’t necessarily auto-biographical. The stories are about characters and plots that have been bouncing around in my subconscious for years.

The characters are now screaming at me to get out of my head and onto the page. The sense of urgency gets stronger as I have yet to see these characters and plots play out on stage or screen.

Also, I am driven by the fact that I don’t have just one story inside of me. The number is climbing steadily, with different families, in vastly different situations, operating in different universes.

It is getting a little crowded in there.

Many years ago, during a retirement planning seminar, an expert suggested that we shouldn’t wait until retirement to pursue (or at least test out) our dreams. The example they gave was people who say that in retirement they want to sail around the world only to retire and find out early in their journey that they were prone to getting seasick.

In taking that advice, I started this blog to get more practice in creative writing on my own time. The blog became my personal rehearsal space, and to my great delight, I didn’t get seasick along the way!

I have been incredibly fortunate to have received so much encouragement from family, friends and readers. It brought me great joy and validation to hear when one of my posts resonated with a reader which further reaffirmed that I was on the right track.

It was just recently that I was reviewing old blog posts and noticed that many of them are indeed short-form storytelling. What an epiphany!

Maybe wanting to be a storyteller isn’t just an aspirational statement. It appears that I have been doing it already, in preparation for the next big chapter of life.

While I remain optimistic about the longer form stories I want to tell and the skill set I picked up through the years to enable me to tell them, I accept that the business of storytelling is sometimes a bit of a lottery.

Either way, for me, 2022 will be the year of the big download of stories from my brain, now that I have the time and headspace to do it. I look forward to making my storytelling dreams come true.

After giving storytelling a good try, if for whatever reason, my stories don’t find an audience, then perhaps my fall back option might be to take paid gigs writing for others. Time will tell.

As long as I have the outlet to create with the written word, I will be happy, answering my calling and pursuing my dreams.

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,

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