It’s a strange thing to put words down and not to be understood. Sometimes people will read something you wrote, something fundamental and joyful, and think it sad. That happened here. In an earlier draft of this post I wrote two sentences that freed me from a lifetime of flawed, personal expectation, filled me with a sense of wonder nearly akin to the birth of my children, and broke Susan’s heart (Susan runs the joint).
What I wrote was this: I am not a novelist.
I am a storyteller.
I spent my childhood dreaming of being a novelist. It was my astronaut. To my six-year-old self, there could be no higher calling, no more fulfilling vocation than the creation of story. And I never grew out of it. Fifteen came and went. I sailed past twenty. I got married. Through it all I couldn’t see myself doing anything but writing fiction. Yet every year November (National Novel Writing Month) would come and November would go, and there would be no novel.
This past November was no different. Between work and completing my degree, between my daughter and a very pregnant wife I didn’t get any closer to finishing a novel. But unlike all those other Novembers, it did not bother me. This past November I was here at Joggling Board. My creative energies weren’t bent toward stories of my own. I was consumed with other people’s stories- with refining them and sharing them with as many people as possible. It is the most fulfilling work I have ever done.
At twelve and at twenty-five, telling stories meant writing novels. But that is only the smallest part of what I want from my life. Realizing that is like realizing I’ve spent my life trying to fly with one wing. It broke Susan’s heart to think I was giving up on my dreams; but I have spent a lifetime dreaming of walking when I was meant to dance.
What I love, what makes me happy, is sharing stories. Working in publishing I discovered that everyone has a story, even those people who don’t have a whole book. I want those stories. I want the funny and the tragic moments. I want the pearls of human experience, the little seeds of dreams. I want to polish them until they gleam or plant them and watch them grow. I want share them with you.
This year, I’m happy to say, I’ll be pursuing that dream. This year we’ll be publishing Bread and Circuses: Joggling Board Chronicles Volume 1, an anthology of short, true stories from the authors, friends and staff of Joggling Board Press. The anthology marks an important first for me and for Joggling Board Press. Bread and Circuses is my first formal foray into editing and the first Joggling Board project I am aware of on which Susan isn’t nurturing a new writer, but nurturing a new editor.
Bread and Circuses will be available early 2013 and we’re already planning subsequent Joggling Board Chronicles volumes. Sign up for the mailing list and keep watching the blog. One day soon we’ll be opening submissions for your stories.