The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


Choose Symmetry

This blog is about stories, anecdotes, snippets of conversation, what have you. [What will you have?] It's a bunch of writing by someone who makes her living as a writer. As such, I think a lot about words, the nature of writing, and what it means to be a writer.

I've been creating stories and writing for most of my life. I started freelancing about four years ago and after much hand-wringing, finally took the big entrepreneurial plunge and quit my "real" job last summer. So now, when people ask me what I "do," I'm forced to say: "I'm a writer."

What an scandalous thing to admit out loud! I'm a writer. I write things. That's what I do. I'm a writer.

I still feel slightly embarrassed and shocked when I say it. I secretly fear that people will see through me; will think that I'm a poseur; will discover that I used to write poetry full of teenage angst; will somehow get ahold of my journals and unearth my ability to write total drivel about the same stuff over and over and over again.

About five years ago I began a quest to figure out what I'm supposed to be now that I'm apparently a grownup. I took the advice of a career coach and asked the people I love what they thought about me and my talents. Ever single one of them told me some variation on the following: I'm creative, a born story teller, and good with words.

I saw a theme emerging and tried to reconcile it with the snide comments of my inner insecurity. So I went back and read some of my poetry (post-teenage-angst period), short stories, narratives, and college papers. I discovered that I still liked some of the first three and was astounded by the latter. I read these complex ideas about T.S. Eliot's poetry, theories of pedagogy and literary criticism, and imagery in Shakespeare's The Tempest. And then I realized that I was responsible for these things. I thought them, researched them, and wrote them. I impressed myself.

We don't impress ourselves enough. The bad stuff is easier to believe. (Yes, that's a line from "Pretty Woman.") We all should have more moments to feel proud and even in-awe of ourselves. I'm not advocating conceit, but rather a type of self-love that opens us up to possibilities. If you can't remember the last time you impressed yourself, start doing what you love. Then -- and this is crucial-- turn off your inner critic. It's too easy to compare ourselves to our peers and our heroes. We should allow ourselves to feel pride and accomplishment.

At some point during all of my seeking I had an obvious epiphany: I'm a writer.


That's when I realized I'd forgotten that I like to write, have some skill in it, and could use it to my advantage.

Someone recently described me as an artist. This was the first time we'd met. She said it more than once in a single conversation, even though I had not referred to myself that way. I'd gone so far as to say that I'm a freelance writer. But artist? That's even more outlandish than writer. But I loved hearing it. Me as an artist. How preposterous! How pretentious! To be the thing I most secretly want to be. And then to say it out loud for all to hear. The audacity!

We should all be so audacious.

I'm learning to name myself and my desires for what they are; to claim them with no show of arrogance or delusion. To allow myself to be -- and to become -- what I want to be. I have so much to learn and so many ways to grow. I'm finally mature enough to recognize my need for improvement without discounting my achievements

I've read that people with symmetrical facial features are judged to be more attractive than those with unsymmetrical features. How beautiful my life would be if I aligned my dreams with my actions. How lovely I would be if I were full of symmetry.

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Anonymous mo said...

from what I can see here, you're a pretty good writer.

4/17/2007 5:32 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Thanks very much, mo!

4/17/2007 6:05 PM  

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