Thankfulness Thursday and the power of stories

I’m always happy when the rest of the country joins in on Thankfulness Thursday. 🙂

It’s been quiet here on Governing Ana, at least on the blog. Behind the scenes, it’s been a string of 18-hour days to get ready for Ana’s Advent Calendar (only four days away!) and the delivery of 18 Kindles and accessories to Lost-N-Found Youth next Friday, December 5th. Writing deadlines are whizzing by, and for the first time in three years Ana’s Advent Calendar has come a bit too soon for my liking. Usually, I’m eager to get started ten months ahead of time! With Something Good taking up the bulk of my time for the past month and a half, however, it’s been one continual rush. The bad news has been little time to write. A writer who can’t write is not happy, and I’ve been examining options to make that time. I’ve heard requests for a sequel to Taliasman, but I have four other projects promised before I can start writing that. Plus, there are other sequels to write for other series. Don’t we want to find out what happens with Kat, Natalie, and the new arrival? 🙂

Almost two years ago, I celebrated the release of my first published book. Three years ago, I never dreamed I’d be on this path. Four years ago, I thought I was headed toward a different career. It’s so funny, the twists and turns of our lives. I told my first stories almost as soon as I learned to talk, and something strange has happened as this storytelling turns into book-writing. I have deadlines. Expectations. Responsibilities. Marketing, networking, revisions, and…did I say expectations?

I crashed my internet yesterday (and the system I’d set up for the Kindles). Turns out that trying to download 300+ books to 18 Kindles at once is not a good idea. Oops! I panicked because I have been working on this project for ages, and yet I still have too much left to figure out. I have to prepare a staff training, put together user manuals (not for the Kindles themselves but how to link to the network I’ve set up), and anticipate any issues that might come up. So many people have made so many sacrifices to make this project happen, and I worry about letting you down. To date, I believe that 1 book review site, 8-10 publishers, and 30-40 authors have joined the effort.

Pretty awe-inspiring, isn’t it? And yet…I worry. What if I haven’t thought everything through? What if things don’t go well? What if something terrible happens? Many bad things happen in the world because someone had a good idea with good intentions and it was executed badly. I’ve put in place every single safety measure I and Amazon can think of, but it may not be enough.

As I spent four hours yesterday loading a portion of the books onto the Kindles, I wondered whether the recipients would read any of the books. Or would they complain that the Kindles were too slow and clunky compared to a “real” computer, using it only for social media? Would the Kindles get stolen? Would fights break out because people didn’t want to wait in line?

I began Something Good because I wanted to make life easier for someone who was having a hard time. As a storyteller, I believe that all solutions are rooted in stories. Without a story, we can’t understand each other or ourselves. Without stories to shape our lives, we don’t have meaning. Even lawyers need stories to sell their version of events.

Stories tell us, “It’s okay to be who I am.” Or, if we never hear the right stories, they tell us, “You are wrong.” Invisible. Unheard. Sinful. Destined for hell. Disturbed. Mentally ill.

The stories we tell (and the absences in the stories we tell) can break or heal us. Without stories that reach our heart, how can we find our place in the world?

Perhaps these are the over-optimistic thoughts of an inveterate storyteller, but I think many of my author and reader friends would agree.

What about you?

What was the first story that made you feel all right with your identity? Maybe it was a story about sexuality, or gender, or perhaps about kink. Or maybe it was about something different altogether. Perhaps your story was about going against the dictates of society.

I’m reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (review to follow), Bonhoeffer Abridged. I love reviewing because I get to find brand-new books I might not know about otherwise. The book challenges and frustrates me at the same time. It’s lucid and accessible, but it also oversimplifies. But how to remain accessible without simplifying? My brain has been working on this puzzle for the past week or so, and I’m reading slowly on purpose. For those who don’t know, Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis for an assassination attempt of Hitler.

It’s a tale of competing stories–the traditional narrative of Bonhoeffer the quiet hero vs. the narrative of the evil of murder. History has treated Bonhoeffer kindly, and he is revered as a theologian and writer. But in the moment, how do we know which story is right? Bonhoeffer was told one story by his society. He chose to live a different story, one that ended in death as a convicted criminal.

If Bonhoeffer lived today, would we condemn him?

How do we know which story is right for us?

Will the youth at Lost-N-Found find a story that tells them that they are valued individuals and their life matters? Will the stories provide acceptance and a sense of self-worth? Will the stories give the youth strength to keep going even when life strikes its worst?

I sit inside my cozy, comfortable home with enough food to eat, clothes to wear, and even a little extra to spend on non-essentials. I have been blessed with so much, and yet the demons of self-doubt still creep in the corners. Maybe all creative people struggle in this way. Maybe not. But I wonder…can these Kindles and books change lives? A life?

Today, I am thankful for each one of you who answered my call to create Something Good. Thank you for listening as I endlessly debated the merits of each purchase and each approach. I can’t provide a solution for homophobia and homelessness. but I hope we can make a teeny-tiny change.

The weight on my shoulders has been heavy for the past two months, and it will feel good to release the responsibility next week. At the same time, though, there’s a curious sense of loss. I’ve put in so many hours into this project, just about every single day. When it is over…what then?

I wanted to provide one Kindle with a few books to Lost-N-Found. With your help, we will provide eighteen times that many Kindles plus enough books to crash my internet. Each Kindle is loaded with approximately $2000 worth of donated books.

Can you imagine?

Today, I am thankful that you helped to create Something Good.

Blessings to you this Thanksgiving day. (Yes, even to those of you who don’t celebrate.)

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9 thoughts on “Thankfulness Thursday and the power of stories

  1. nancygoldberglevine says:

    Ana, you are w wonderful person and Something Good will be a huge success–I wish I could see the faces of the young people who are touched by the new stories they read. The first books that made me feel all right with my identity were the All of a Kind Family books by Sydney Taylor, about a Jewish family living in New York at the turn of the century. I thouhgt of my grandparents, who emigrated here from Lithuania and Poland, and my parents, and my own life. Somebody had actually written a book about a Jewish family and I got to read it and laugh and cry over this family.

    I am thankful for my family and friends, and that I started reading your blog. Have a great day!

    Like

  2. Patricia says:

    So you see, you had a major task in life. I can’t say it is finished ~ I am almost certain it is not. all of what you lived before…
    I am really glad to have “met” you. I’m actually a pretty boring grandmother type, but it doesn’t matter.

    Like

  3. catrouble says:

    You are a treasure Ms Ana and such a gift to everyone you meet. I am so very thankful to call you my friend. Definitely looking forward to the Advent Calendar! 😀

    Hugs and Blessings…
    Cat

    Like

  4. Roz Harrison says:

    Ana, you are such a wonderful, giving person. You do so much for so many and are such a blessing. Just don’t forget to take care of you!:) Definitely looking forward to the advent calendar 🙂

    Wishing you a belated Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you had a wonderful day 🙂

    Hugs
    Roz

    Like

  5. Renee says:

    Ana,

    I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful. Reading has always provided another world for me. Growing up in a less than optimal environment created a teenager who learned to be silent and as invisible as possible. Stories provided an outlet and someplace to go safe. Books, stories, and tales opened my eyes to other worlds, concepts, and ideas.

    You are doing a wonderful thing with Something Good. I have learned that no matter how much good you do, you will not please everyone. Don’t try to… you will lose yourself in that effort. You can only control your response and actions. You are not responsible for anyone else’s response. Your actions and efforts in this project displays who you are with clarity; true, loyal, friend, caring, willing, and special. Hold onto why you are doing this and let go of the fears about how they will be received. The kindles/stories will make a world of difference to those who need it the most. Those who are ready to make the journey to self acceptance will love the stories on those kindles. Bless you for opening doors for these kids.

    Don’t forget to take care of yourself. You need to find time for you… whether to write or whatever you do to reset. It is okay to take ME time especially in the middle of a stressful time.

    Looking forward to Ana’s advent calendar.
    Blessings,
    Renee

    Like

  6. Julie says:

    It’s three days later, so I’m sure I’m writing this comment to myself, 🙂 but …

    Something Good is something good, no matter whether it turns out exactly like you hoped. All any of us can do is our best, and act with good intentions Even if for some reason it isn’t perfect, you should be proud of what you’ve done.

    And…”Don’t we want to find out what happens with Kat, Natalie, and the new arrival? :)”

    OF COURSE WE DO!

    Like

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