I'm entering a blog contest titled "You Deserve to Be Inspired"
The rules are relatively simple: tell about an experience that will inspire someone and give three positive things I've learned.
The problem is I don't actually have a sob story.
My So-Called Sob Story
My background is pretty rosy. Both parents in the home. Dad was a banker, Mom homeschooled us. And though my parents were not nearly as together as I always assumed, they both love me and tried to raise me right. None of my family or friends died. Nobody died except my grandparents who lived to ripe old ages before giving up the ghost.
From there, my life has been smooth sailing. I did well in school. Got an Associate's Degree with honors. Met a man who would become my husband, and gave up several potential careers to work as a homemaker. He, too, gave up pursuing a high income to pursue raising children with me. Our career choices has allowed me to never have to earn money outside the home, though I've found being a perpetual dependent strenuous on my self-worth.
Nope, no sob stories. I don't have physical infirmities and neither do my kids. Oh, we have our mild disabilities here and there, but nothing to call the press about.
How on Earth can I write an inspirational post?
For Writers: Yes, You Have a Story
Just because I have a dull background with less pain than other, doesn't mean I can't be inspirational. Watch:
YOU have a voice!
YOU have a story!
YOU can write!
Someone needs what YOU write.
So don't give up.
OK, maybe yelling wasn't the most effective way to inspire you.
But here's the thing: people have said I inspire them. How can that be? I have no huge challenge to share. All I have are little aha moments...
Oh! I just got an inspiring idea!
For Readers: A Story for You
One thing that makes my family crazy is the way I drive. I don't drive dangerously or anything like that. In fact, I'm an overly cautious driver, which my husband says is almost worse than a dangerous one.
That's not the worst part of my driving though.
The worst part is my horrible sense of direction. I will turn right when I should turn left. I'll get on the freeway when I should have stayed on a frontage road. Or I'll hear "stay on Main Street" and think that means "turn off onto this windy road with a big sign that reads 'NO OUTLET'."
You know those Family Circus comics that shows Billy's path from Point A to Point B?
That's me in the car.
I admit this is a wasteful way to drive. Not only does it waste my time and gas (and everyone else's time – which I doubly hate), I sometimes get so lost that I have to retrace my path almost to the starting point.
But I've learned that even this awfully annoying weakness can become a strength.
We recently bought a truck. The truck was old, but had some major work done just before we bought it. I won't pretend to remember what was replaced exactly – the battery? The carburetor? The catalytic converter? Something that had to do with smog emissions.
Soon after we bought the truck, it was due for a smog check. One problem: it hadn't been driven much since the major part replacement.
Now this might just be a California thing, so let me explain: every two years, you have to take your car to a certified Smog check place and pay them to test your vehicle. If it "passes smog" then you can renew your California Registration on it. If not, you have a whole 'nother host of problems. In other words, we needed our truck to pass smog.
My husband took it in first and it failed. Sort of. The clerk at the Smog place said the truck hadn't been driven long enough to be able to get an accurate test. "Drive it for 100 miles and bring it back. We'll retest no charge."
So my husband commuted to work for a couple days and racked up way more than 100 miles. "It should be good now, Honey," he told me, "Will you take it in?"
Sure. No problem. Except...
The clerk said the truck still hadn't been driven enough.
Apparently, in those 100 miles you have to drive on the freeway and in town. My husband's commute is freeway-only miles.
So I started to go home. Then I thought, wait a minute.
If there's one thing I do well, it's drive all over the place when I could be driving straight to my destination.
So I did.
I drove across town and back again. Turning right when I could have turned left to get there faster. Taking the windy road instead of Main Street. And just generally getting myself lost (so that I would have to backtrack to the smog check place).
And you know what?
The truck passed smog.
As I drove home – directly this time – with my certificate in the glove box, I realized something.
This is what my stories need to do.
The characters in my stories need a weakness that gets them in trouble. But that very character flaw should be what solves the conflict in the end.
That's one of the keys to a great story.
Takeaways and Links
So what did I learn?
Need more inspiration?
Need more A to Z Challenge fun?
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)