As I move closer to retiring from full-time teaching work, I turn my attention to story. At the core of everything I do there is always a story behind it. Obviously, my fictional books are stories. Most of my songwriting and poetry is also story based. Even my electronic compositions and photography are rooted in story.

We all have stories to tell. I’ve been blessed (or cursed) with several real stories in my life that I think are worth telling. Why? Because they’re based on things people experience. My experiences might have been a bit unique and extreme, but others can still relate. Here are a few of my experiences that can lead to stories:

  • Childhood victim of a cult
  • Riding trains across the country in my 20s
  • Marriage to and divorce from someone with extreme OCD
  • Dealing with the addiction of a family member
  • 25+ years in higher education
  • My musical and artistic journey

I could go on. The point is simple. Topics for stories don’t have to be outside of the norm in order to be interesting. My preferred styles of writing are fiction, song, and poetry. But even fiction is often grounded in real-life events. That’s what makes good writing. Non-fiction is harder for me. My work on a traditional memoir will be more challenging.

What’s your story? Don’t tell me you don’t have one. We all do. I encourage you to make a short list of possible story ideas based on your own life. Then consider different ways you might express your experiences. Have fun while you’re at it. – dse

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Author: Dan Steven Erickson

Dan Steven Erickson is a great undiscovered American songwriter.