On the tail end of a week of disappointment, my professor declared it to be story day. In the library of the journalism building, where the tall windows showed the sprawling East Village and let the setting sun fall on our heads, each one of my classmates stood up and told a true story about themselves. Most were funny anecdotes, some horrifying in their hilarity, others touching and sweet.
Actually, all were touching because they made me laugh, or smile, or gasp in shock. They distracted me with reality. Because they were so real. Like the way my professor always says: “You can’t make this stuff up.”
What felt really good was that space of trust that we created. To tell a story, you are becoming vulnerable, offering up a piece of yourself. And, at least according to my professor, that helps you to become a good writer. If you offer something, so will other people. That’s when you get those gems, the ones you stick in your story that show humanity the way it really is. Without shame.