Thursday, May 22, 2014

Maya Angelou on Telling Your Story

Jill here. My husband is obsessed with Walt Disney. He reads every book about the man's life that he can get his hands on. He knows more trivia about Walt and the Disney company than he does about anything else, save the Bible (my husband is a youth pastor). And my husband could not wait to see the movie Saving Mr. Banks.

I thought it looked good, but I was surprised to find that I loved it. And the funny thing was, I loved the movie for an entirely different reason than my husband did. This is a film that goes back and forth between two stories. We have the present, in which Mr. Disney is trying to get P. L. Travers to sign over the film rights to the book Mary Poppins so he can make his movie. And we have the story of a young P. L. Travers growing up in Australia. My husband loved the story with Walt. And I loved the story of the little girl who became an author.

It had never occurred to me until I was sitting in the theater, crying over this film, that an author might write a fictional story to deal with the pain in her past, that the book might be a way for her to heal her heart. If you've seen the film, the scene in which the Sherman brothers are performing the song Fidelity Fiduciary Bank is incredibly powerful as you watch the contrast between how silly the Sherman brothers are and the author remembering what really happened to inspire that scene in the book. Amazing.

I just bawled.

If you haven't seen this movie, you must.


There is a deep pain in each of us, some darker than others. And perhaps someday you might feel called to write about that untold story inside you. You might do it to find healing as P. L. Travers did. You might do it so that your pain could help others. Or you might have another reason. No matter what you decide, it will be hard and I applaud your bravery.

Have you ever thought about writing about your real life? It doesn't have to be a memoir. Look at the way P. L. Travers wrote about her pain? A magical nanny who came to save her father. That's pretty powerful stuff. Fiction just rocks, doesn't it?

23 comments:

  1. That is amazing. I've never seen the movie, but I agree that sometimes what we write is a way of healing ourselves. I know it's true for me, and I hope it gives my characters more depth.

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    1. I'm sure it does give characters more depth. It's a wonderful thing.

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  2. I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!! I cried so hard at the end!

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    1. That movie gave me goosebumps. I so loved it.

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  4. Before the beginning of this year, I've always hated the advice "Write what you know." But now I'm writing (oh, goodness! It's almost finished.) a novella based on events that happened to my family a few years ago, and still continuing now. In a way, I have been able to explore those situations more through the eyes of my characters. It's a wonderful experience. (I'll be seeing Saving Mr Banks ... soon!)

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    1. That's awesome, Annie! And I hope you enjoy the movie. ;-)

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  5. Every author leaves a piece of themselves inside a story. Whether they intend it or not at least one of their characters has an experience that they have had themselves or a lesson they learned the hard way. Maybe they had a father they never knew or someone they cared about died. More experienced authors can try to cloak it, but it is still there.

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    1. Agreed. And sometimes the genre of the story can hide it too. But it's there.

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  6. Wow. Maybe I needed to hear this today. I've been thinking about the stories inside me I'm not ready to tell yet, and how one day, I want to tell them.

    It always manages to amaze me, when I'm reminded of the power of writing. Thank you. :)

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    1. You're welcome! Someday you'll be ready, Amanda. At just the right time. :-)

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  7. The movie sounds interesting (I haven't seen it yet), but about the only thing I noticed was that quote. It describes how I feel so accurately!
    I actually dislike writing, but I have a story, a world inside that no one else knows! (not even my brother, who is behind a lot of the world) I want people to know this world, so I try to write to show them this world.
    I don't like drawing too much either (more than writing, though), but I want people to know these creatures and people as well as I do!

    Fresterfur

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    1. That's awesome! Keep at it. Someday you will show us all that world!

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  8. I have to write a short story for school, and I decided to take all the hard stuff that I'm dealing with right now, change up a few things, and write about that. It's hard. And exhausting. It scares me to think of the fact that my mom(my teacher) will read it, but I'm excited to get the words out. Thanks for 'applauding my bravery', Jill; it helps a lot!! :)

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    1. I'm glad, Krissy! That IS hard. And I'm proud of you. Way to do hard things (see last Friday's post. LOL).

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  9. I always base my stories off of my experiences. For example, I recently wrote a story about a speed skater who fell a few feet away from the finish line of a race that she was leading. Something similar happened to me, and I found that my experience helped me to better make the story come alive. Great post, Mrs. Williamson. And yes, fiction does rock.

    http://www.butterfliesoftheimagination.weebly.com/

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    1. That's great, Ana. What a powerful way to use your life experiences!

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  10. The stories I write often have parallels to my real life. Especially when I was moving, I remember writing stories about finding yourself in new places as a sort of coping mechanism.


    Alexa Skrywer
    alexaskrywer.blogspot.com

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    1. That's interesting, Alexa. I love that you were able to use writing to cope. It would be so hard to move to a new place like that.

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  11. I loved that movie!

    I have thought of telling stories somewhat about my life, with a heroine how goes through many of the things I have. Though my fear would be that she would become a Mary Sue.

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    1. Maybe someday you'll just decide to do the memoir thing and tell it like it happened? I keep thinking about writing a memoir, but it's scary! LOL

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  12. This movie though. I cried like a baby! Then I read the book, Mary Poppins and got really mad at how much they changed in the movie, even though the movie is a childhood favorite of mine :)

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