Writers in the Storm

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January 25, 2017

When the Stories Have All Stopped

Kimberly Brock

What in hell do I blog about today, when the world is turning itself inside out every two seconds over one drama or another? What in hell do I write as a fiction author that could matter to a reader when reality is body slamming her, night and day? We all want to escape reality with a good story, but what happens when reality feels more like fiction? What happens to writers and to readers when there is no stable consciousness to allow for the mind to elegantly slip into the place where it learns and dreams and grows fat on possibilities? What happens when it feels like all the stories have stopped?

Or at least the ones we think worth telling. When we’re traumatized, despondent. When our thoughts are just a nonsensical loop.

Well, we end up on Facebook for one thing. Or Netflix. Because guess what? We crave stories instinctively! We are trying to make sense of the world and of ourselves and the only way our wits can stabilize is to follow a narrative from beginning to end. We’ll start picking up any old breadcrumbs faster than damn ducks, hoping that when we get to the end of the trail, we’ll look up, take a deep satisfied breath, and reach some understanding that gives us…peace of mind. Stories are the metaphorical map to hope. And so, that’s what I’m going to blog about because I need the reminder and maybe some reader out there needs it, too.

Stories will always save us. All stories. Any stories. The worst kind of story will still fill your proverbial belly. The simplest kind will sort you out from the inside. The process of story is like breathing for the brain, the rhythm of the collective human experience reminding us that we are all in this together. When it seems all the stories have stopped, think about that rhythm, the beats, the musical score of a character arc; story is a dance for our imaginations. Think about nursery rhymes and those hand-clapping games we played as girls. Think about fairy tales. Oh, don’t get me started there! My first love!

Think of the first storytellers you’ve known, of standing at your grandmother’s side while her hands worked biscuit dough in a bowl and she told you the story of her own grandmother doing the same; her words connected you, a silver thread through time. Think of your grandfather’s voice as he shelled corn on the back porch and told you the tales of his wasted youth and caused your heart to back up against your spine, lest you should know such loss. Think of your mother, telling how you came into the world, a fit of a miracle. Think of the stories told by cover of dark, with nervous giggles and flashlights late in the night, of ghosts and goblins and girls trapped in mirrors. Think of desperate journeys and battle cries and misty mountains, of lost boys who could fly.

They are still there, the voices of the ages, a timeless narrative telling through us, on us, beyond us- whether we remember to listen or not. We are never abandoned, but built by them. Stories and the human psyche are nonlinear lovers. Infinite. Sometimes we must just remember to do a little listening.

Here’s the truth: When it feels as if all the stories have stopped, that’s the lie every heart should recognize. Remember? This is the place where the wood grows dark, the path twists dangerously and home is lost? What happens next? Ah, now. You know.

Tell me a story.

What stories do you call upon when it feels the stories have all stopped?

About Kimberly

Kimberly Brock

Kimberly Brock is the award winning author of the #1 Amazon bestseller, THE RIVER WITCH (Bell Bridge Books, 2012). A former actor and special needs educator, Kimberly is the recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year 2013 Award. A literary work reminiscent of celebrated southern author Carson McCullers, THE RIVER WITCH has been chosen by two national book clubs.

Kimberly’s writing has appeared in anthologies, blogs and magazines, including Writer Unboxed and Psychology Today. Kimberly served as the Blog Network Coordinator for She Reads, a national online book club from 2012 to 2014, actively spearheading several women’s literacy efforts. She lectures and leads workshops on the inherent power in telling our stories and is founder of Tinderbox Writer’s Workshop. She is also owner of Kimberly Brock Pilates.

She lives in the foothills of north Atlanta with her husband and three children, where she is at work on her next novel. Visit her website at kimberlybrockbooks.com for more information and to find her blog.

32 comments on “When the Stories Have All Stopped”

  1. You're so right, Kimberly. I do this when I'm stuck writing, as well. I pick up the Kindle and get lost in another world.

    Currently reading Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser. Hard hitting, and tough subject, but he sucked me into his frozen world of Northern Michigan in a blizzard, and set the devil loose (drugs). I'm riveted, and when I put it down, refreshed.

    Hey, as bad as my day gets, it won't be THAT bad!

    Thanks for the wisdom today.

  2. When I look at the world today and say I must be living is some alternate reality, a book actually grounds me. It reinforces the good in people and the belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel

    1. Grounding is a good way to describe exactly what I'm getting at in this post, and in fact, something I'm very aware of in my life. It's always interesting to me that when I seek to GROUND myself, I often choose subjects that deal with FLIGHTS of the imagination or magic. 🙂

    1. This is a story I hear over and over again, and have experienced in my own life to differing degrees. Stories save us. They tell us who we are - and have been for centuries. They tell us what could be possible. They tell us we're not alone. I'm so glad you had books in your young life and I'll bet your own writing will reach someone in just that same way.

  3. I always retreat to stories. Whether I'm writing, watching, reading, or daydreaming ... stories make life a happier place.

    Thanks for a beautiful, thoughtful blog!

  4. Thank you. How did you know some of us needed this today? Personally, I'm floating between the worlds of fiction and my core writing work of helping special needs families but have felt flat all week, neither world enticing me enough to follow through.

    Again, thank you.

    1. Because we ALWAYS need this, not just today! 🙂 And because I needed the reminder, too. The day to day right now is exhausting. Funny, I taught special needs kids. We're on the same wavelength in lots of ways!

  5. Comforting piece, Kimberly, and these days I need comfort. And I seek it in my fiction--what I am writing and what other have written. Your words: "Stories and the human psyche are nonlinear lovers. Infinite. Sometimes we must just remember to do a little listening." I promise to listen and I pray more and more people will.

    1. As writers, we are constantly soaking up the energy and emotion around us. Soaking up information and inspiration. But listening is maybe a different skill. It has to do with quieting our own thoughts, I think. I'm trying to do that a lot right now.

  6. What a beautiful post! It is so true! Stories are what shape us, inspire us, feed us with dreams. How privileged we are to be able to pass the gift to others.

    1. Thank you. Passing stories along as a gift is a big part of the novel I'm working on right now. That's become an important idea in my life and I think especially right now.

  7. In the 1960s, we saw American cities riot and burn, discredited wars, assasinations of national Icons, etc. What gave me hope? What showed me a world where we could live and work together in peace?

    Star Trek.

    From 1966 through 1969, we saw a multi-racial crew win battles and protect others with courage, competence and wisdom. No, the special effects weren't special. The acting wasn't very good and the plots and dialog often forced. But, there was an over reaching theme of hope and optimism.

    Not necessary that genre, but perhaps those are the stories to write now. Where nice people find love despite differences. Where brave women and men trumph against the odds. Where the kind and generous are respected. Where innocents discover wonders.

    I don't know how good my stories will be but I feel better writing them than I do reading the newspapers.

  8. Story. The willingness to listen. The willingness to share. There is healing there, in the community that storytelling creates. Thank you for this today.

  9. Kimberly, thank you for writing this blog. It really spoke to me. I was just thinking today how much more difficult it is going to write fiction or even non-fiction when our daily lives feel like they could crumble anytime. Yes, fantasy fiction right now may save us (in books or movies). They have a way of conveying truth and help us figure things out that are happening right now. To me for instance, Harry Potter especially in the Deathly Hallows and of course The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars so resonate with me. My next question is: What about fiction writers who are interested in writing about ordinary lives? Things are shifting really fast. Stories even from the excellent Alice Munro may not be that interesting anymore unless they become themselves fantasy stories because the world in which their characters evolve will have nothing in common with the reader's world as of now anymore. This reminds me of Galadriel's words to Frodo: "Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.”

    1. I love that quote. I think fantasy unlocks us and comforts us, as much as it inspires us to dream. And as you say, writing about ordinary lives may be difficult in uncertain times. But READING about ordinary lives during uncertain times is so important. Think of Anne Frank.

      1. Thank you for sharing some hope and yes, Anne Frank is a great example of how crucial it is to read about the lives of people who are like us, whatever that means...

  10. Lately, I've been more interested in creating visual art than writing new stories. For now, I plan to just go with it. My novel was published in November, so I'm not in any rush to put out something new. While I am engaged in various forms of political activism, every time I try to blog about what's going on, I find that I can't.

    1. I hear you! It's that loop in your head. I am only now writing fiction freely since a personal trauma three years ago, stopped me in my tracks. And with all the political turmoil, I just feel exhausted. Creativity takes a lot of hard knocks over the course of a lifetime, but it almost always finds a form of expression - like your visual art. You'll come back to words when that's the expression that serves you best.

  11. The escape of a good book. The world will continue whether we are involved or not. I seek shelter within the pages of a fanciful tale with a HEA. Thanks, Kimberly for reminding us there is therapy for reality.

  12. "The process of story is like breathing for the brain..." Indeed. Right now, when so many of us are gasping for air, with a condition one might call political apnea, we need to strap on stories that will stimulate the place deep within that remembers to breathe for us when we find ourselves starved for oxygen.

  13. Thank you for sharing some hope and yes, Anne Frank is a great example of how crucial it is to hold onto slices of "normal" life...

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