What constitutes story fodder? Or more importantly, what’s off limits? Anything?
That’s an odd question, but in our polarized society, some topics seem taboo. I would suggest that if it is a strongly held belief that you ache to reveal, then by all means, write it.
In fact, you probably SHOULD write it.
A story digs deeper into the brain than a debate or discussion (see my forthcoming book Creativity Wears Boots to see just how much further).
Let me share the wisdom of my daughters. The idea of “Feelings aren’t Facts” is a common conservative argument, and it’s 100% true, but that isn’t all there is to it. My girls informed me that “Feelings are Valid.” They may not be based in right beliefs, but feelings need to be acknowledged.
And they are right. Ben Shapiro may lecture, and Steven Crowder may mock, but they don’t dwell. Martin Luther King Jr. made amazing speeches, but Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird made me burn inside in ways King’s speeches didn’t. I got goosebumps when I heard I have a dream! but I cried when Scout learned the truth about the world.
I think A Time to Kill was John Grisham’s best book. It was his first, written in long-hand and then transposed, it was raw and—goodness!—actually showed a story (Grisham is the foremost teller of Show don’t Tell stories). It made me angry in the right way.
What’s your story? The horrors of abortion? The refutation of LGBT? The affirmation of them? Are you a Flat Earther? Do you struggle with evolution? Do you think Starbuck’s is of the devil (YES!)?
Write your story.
Yes, you might give thought to who within your immediate family would be offended. I have topics I won’t broach for that reason. For now.
The truest way to power through the expanse of the second act is to believe in your story. To be passionate about your topic and themes.
A quick story: Many years ago, I wrote and mounted a play set during WWII. We almost cancelled a week before production because America had just gone to war and we didn’t want anyone to adversely affected. We decided to go ahead with it nonetheless and deal with any consequences. After opening night, a woman came up to me crying. I thought, “Uh-oh” but instead she told me her husband had been deployed and she couldn’t sleep for fear, and that our play had made her see that God was in control and she wanted to thank me. Let me tell you, there is no greater feeling. For every person you hear from, there are many more who say nothing to you but are changed for reading your story.
You were given your deeply held convictions to share. Sometimes, as Frances Assisi said, “you might use words.”
Write your story, be true to yourself.
Who knows? You might change the world.