Writing Academy, Memoirs, Novels, Short Stories, Book Proposals

New York City Writing Coach

Gay Walley

All stories are true

Even if they’re made up. By the way that is the title of a wonderful book of short stories by John Edgar Wideman. I am struck, as a coach, by how deep the stories are of my students. In other words, no matter what they are writing, the way to improve it is to put more of themselves into it. And then it starts to sing. Our emotions and feelings are our gold and the more we feel them, the better the words they’ll give us. It’s magical really. If we are fully present on the page with all of ourselves, then the right words come.
Some people have a resistance to writing about themselves and I get that but, in the end, we are all writing “with” ourselves. I remember once hearing a man who was curating Churchill’s papers at Cambridge saying that, “Even Churchill made his history of the world read like a bio of himself.” It was a joke, but there is always some truth in jokes, as we know, and I fully understood what the curator was saying. He put himself into his work. It was Churchill’s viewpoint. All our stories are true. And that is what makes them individual, resonant, and necessary to be heard.