The Show Goes On

When I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak to groups of writers, my goal is always to entertain and inspire. My means to do so is to tell stories, specifically about me. That’s what I do. I say, “Hello, nice to see you all, here’s a bunch things I did. Bill did this and Bill did that and then Bill did this other thing.” It’s The Bill Show. If it goes well, it’s a win-win. First, I feel good. The only way I can entertain or inspire anyone else is if I first entertain and inspire myself. So I’m happy, which is certainly worth something. But I’m usually not the only one, and afterward, normally one or two people introduce themselves. This is nice because I’m in a bouncy post-talk mood and feeling very friendly. Thank you, they say; you’re most welcome, I reply.

But this is never quite enough; they usually want to tell me something else. And that’s when they begin to tell me their story. They tell me about their parents and their jobs and their marriages, about their challenges and their triumphs. I’m always a little surprised at how open these strangers are, how quick they are to share the most personal details about their lives.

And as I listen, I am reminded – yet again – that there really is no Bill Show. If an audience member or a reader loves my story it is because it has become their story. I am strangely irrelevant. All I have done is remind someone of something, and once that has been remembered, nothing else is important anymore. The night, the talk, the applause – even the story doesn’t matter anymore. There’s just that feeling we’ve remembered, something we found together and now are looking to see where else we can share it.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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