Nearly everyone who writes personal stories in any form has agonized over how much to share.
Will writing about an issue from childhood break Mom’s heart?
Should I change the name of a high school teacher? The next-door neighbor? The dog? The children?
Are the hyacinths blooming by the mailbox worth mentioning?
Is this naval gazing or vulnerability?
Will people feel I’m airing the dirty laundry or sharing my own struggles so others might find healing?
Stories Bring YOU into Your Writing
Goodness, stories set your projects apart from all other essays, articles, and books, because only you had that encounter, that experience, that struggle, that transformation.
When you make a claim and support it with your own life story, no one else could have written that piece.
Stories create connection between reader and writer.
Stories convey universal truths through specific situations.
You don’t have to share your darkest eras or most embarrassing moments to offer transformative stories to readers.
You don’t have to bare all to be a generous and effective storyteller.
You get to choose what to share with the public on a blog or in an article…and you get to choose what will live only in a journal, shoved under your mattress.
Our Three Lives
A few years ago, I found a quote from author Gabriel García Márquez, suggesting we have three lives:
- A Public life
- A Private life
- A Secret life
A Newsweek article writes:
About [Márquez’s] own romantic passions, though, the author remained tight-lipped. He told his biographer Gerald Martin “with the expression on his face of an undertaker determinedly closing a coffin lid back down, that ‘everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life and a secret life’.” When Martin asked if Márquez might give him access into the latter, he replied: “No, never.”1
Kenneth Samples at Reasons to Believe describes these three lives:
- A Public Life: This is the side of themselves that people present at work, church, civic arenas, and other public contexts. This is how people are generally seen in their daily life outside the home.
- A Private Life: This is the side of life that people share with family and close friends. Only a person’s inner circle…gets to see this “version.”
- A Secret Life: This is the side of life known only to an individual. In can include one’s private thoughts and secret actions. People may be aware of their secret life, but that is not always the case. The reality of the secret life may be unknown even to the individual person himself for all of us have blind spots that stand in the way of true self-realization2
As writers, we are in control. Like Márquez, we get to choose the stories that will be part of the essay, the memoir, the interview—the public self.
And we get to choose the stories that will never be told—that will remain part of our secret life.
Isn’t that freeing? You get to write, and you get to choose.
My Stories — Our Stories
My primary newsletter is my coaching newsletter. It’s how I show up in your inbox to support your writing goals and encourage you on your writing journey. I share as much as possible to help you make progress.
You may have noticed I share very few personal stories. I guess I default to keeping a lot of my life out of the public eye.
To explore that, I decided to launch a side project on Substack that I’m calling Story Hatchery.
We can outwit AI and learn more about ourselves by capturing and crafting our stories. We need a safe place to do that, a haven for storytelling.
That’s Story Hatchery.
I’ll be writing my own stories, using prompts I’ll share with you.
You’ll get a peek at my writing process, including drafts leading up to a final version.
I’ll pass along storytelling wisdom from people who inspire me.
Follow Story Hatchery to enjoy a more personal side of Ann Kroeker as we practice finding and writing our stories.
I hope I don’t overshare, but at least I have a way to decide.
- Subscribe to Story Hatchery
- Subscribe to my Writing Coach newsletter HERE or using the form below
- Read Write to Discover: Start with Yourself
- Read What Do I Write Next: Enjoy Your Vein of Gold
- Read Can You Write Your Story Before It’s Become a Story?
- Shakespeare, Nicholas. “The Secret Muse of Gabriel García Márquez.” Newsweek, Newsweek, 11 July 2014, www.newsweek.com/2014/07/18/secret-muse-gabriel-garcia-marquez-260433.html. Accessed 31 May 2023.
- Samples, Kenneth. “Does Everyone Have Three Lives?” Reasons to Believe, 28 Apr. 2020, reasons.org/explore/blogs/reflections/does-everyone-have-three-lives. Accessed 31 May 2023.