Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Gift and Burden of Storytelling



T. I. Lowe




How many people can say they get to daydream and make up stories for a living? As an author I am totally grateful to be able to raise my hand. I love having this ability to use my imagination to create a story. Through this freedom to create, I’m allowed control over the story’s themes and outcomes, which is something I’m not able to do in real life.

In my fictional world, I can also give my reader the gift of taking a break from his or her real world, to live in another setting, to experience something new right along with my characters. How incredibly rewarding is that!

As you can tell, I get pretty worked up about being allowed this extraordinary gift of storytelling. But as much as it is a gift, storytelling also comes with a great responsibility.

There is a burden to get the story right, to express it to the readers clearly, to breathe enough life into a one-dimensional Word document to transform it into three vivid dimensions. So much so, the reader not only reads it but can live it.

To do a story justice, a fair amount of research and tapping into my empathy are both key for me. A heavier burden comes with stories that deal with difficult subject matters. I keep my readers in mind, because they have to walk those difficult narratives with my characters. It gives me the drive to make sure I research enough before beginning that journey myself. I also want to respect and honor those who may have walked the arduous subject matters in their real life by taking the time to get the story right. I never want to use my gift of writing to offend someone but to inspire them.

In my latest book, Under the Magnolias, I took on the subject of mental health. Yes, it scared the mess out of me to take that on, but the passion of telling Austin Foster’s story drove me to push through the hard days of research. I became so engrossed in learning about bipolar disorder, listening to those who suffer with it, their attempts at suicide, the family members who endured the battle right along with them, that at the end of some days I couldn’t turn it off. Those days, I suffered lows and grieved, but then I realized that I, as a storyteller, had the power to create a better ending to a story in my fictional world that a lot of people are not afforded in the real world.

The burden of Under the Magnolias eventually turned into a celebration of the transformative power to overcome circumstance. It highlights how a community can come together to help one of its members rise from the ashes, to get a second chance at life.

No matter how burdensome this gift can get at points along my writing journey, it’s one I am beyond thankful for and never want to take for granted. I also never want to lose my empathy and determination to get the story right and to give my readers their own hope because of it.

Even though the weight of story for an author can become taxing, it’s far too rewarding to not endure the tougher writing seasons.


T. I. Lowe is an ordinary country girl who loves to tell extraordinary stories and is the author of nearly twenty published novels, including her debut, Lulu's Café, a number one bestseller. She lives with her husband and family in coastal South Carolina.


2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for our post today. It is wonderful that writers have the abilities to tell great stories and fill the reader with worlds afar.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That had to be some hard research. Thank you for caring for your reader enough to do that!

    ReplyDelete