What Is Story (Redux)? . . . And a Sense of Urgency

My first post on this blog went live in January 2012, but I didn’t start a regular posting schedule until March of that year, so I consider March my blog’s anniversary. This blog is now three years old.

I deliberately set the blog’s theme “Story and History” to be broad enough to let me write about almost anything I wanted. My first post was titled “What is Story?” and began:

This blog is about story and history — my story, the stories in my historical and contemporary writing, and the stories of the world as it was and is.

How am I doing on my plan to write about my story, the stories in my writing, and the stories of the world around me?

My posts deal much more with my family than I anticipated, and less about my writing and about the world as I see it (though I’ve covered a lot of Oregon Trail and Gold Rush history in my posts).

Perhaps I focus on family because of what I’ve had to deal with over the last three years—my mother’s decline due to Alzheimer’s, her death last summer, and my father’s sudden death in January. Perhaps I’ve focused on family because to tell my story necessitates that I write about the people who made me the way I am—which began with family. My story requires writing my own history.

Perhaps I don’t write about my writing, because the last few years have been a struggle to feel productive as a writer. I’ve been on too many boards and committees, and I’ve had too many family issues to spend the creative time writing that I want.

Nevertheless, I have accomplished certain goals in the last three years. When I began this blog, I had not yet published a novel. I accomplished that life goal in late 2013 (under a pseudonym).

Now my goal is to publish at least two more novels—the two on the Oregon Trail and California Gold Rush that I have drafted. I am confident I will meet this goal, though my timeline has been much slower than I had hoped.

MC900149882As I wrote on January 28 of this year, I am editing my first Oregon Trail novel again, hoping to whip it into publishable shape. I am proud to report that as of last week, I had edited about 60% of it for my critique group, and I’ve got it below 130,000 words. (I’d like to end up around 120,000 words, but I think it’s going to be 125,000 or so.)

My critique group has been through a little more than a third of the book. As soon as I finish my edit for them, I’ll go back to incorporate their comments into the novel. I still hope to have all that done by Labor Day.

The good news is that as I edit I still like the book. The bad news is I still have a lot of work to do.

I have a greater sense of urgency now than I did three years ago. As I said, my father died suddenly in January. My husband had a good friend who was in his early sixties who died later that month. Last week one of my critique group partners died after open-heart surgery.

We know not the hour.

And yet, we plan as if we have time. Life is a balance between striving for more and being ready.

In March 2012, I wrote about achieving our dreams by telling our stories. I haven’t achieved my dreams yet, but I will continue to tell my stories.

I wrote in another post in March 2012:

My challenge to you today is to ask yourself:

— What is your future story?

— What do you want your life to be in five or ten years?

I leave you with these same questions again today.

Posted in Philosophy, Writing and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. Theresa…I love the line: “And yet, we plan as if we have time. Life is a balance between striving for more and being ready.” How true and a good reminder as we begin each day!
    Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  2. “Man plans and God laughs”…this came to mind while reading your post, Theresa.
    In five to ten years, I’d like to hope that my loved ones will remain healthy and happy, but with aging parents, I’m not sure what the future holds.
    I’m happy to hear as you edit, that you still like your book. 🙂 That’s certainly a motivating factor.

  3. Ah, Theresa, I’ve never known what I’d be doing in five years, hardly even next week although my phone calendar says I do. And you know, if you’re still telling your stories, you are living your dream. And that’s what counts.

    I like your family stories. They ring true and heartfelt. You’ve had a lot of changes in a very short time; perhaps those stories are the heart of you because you get to remember who you are.

    But yes, death and time sit at our elbow every day. Sometimes I find myself counting up how much time I have to get these stories down. Now that could be depressing! So instead, since there’s still so much to do, I’ll just plan on living until 104. And keep exercising.

  4. Pingback: What’s in a Book Cover? | Story & History

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