The story behind our stories

Advertisers have been doing it for years, using popular celebrities to sell their products. The reason? You probably like the guy that just won the Super Bowl, or you might like their team’s story, (see New Orleans Saints) and you find yourself rooting for that underdog. If the quarterback from that team turns to the camera with trophy in hand and shouts, “I’m going to Disneyworld!” you might just want to go there, too.

But what about authors? While we are spinning our stories, we each have our own life story that influences how and what we write. But how much influence does our life story have on how popular our writing is?

The latest viral video sensation is Ted Williams, the homeless man with a golden voice. He will probably get the second chance that he’s been vying for all these years. Why? Because we like stories of redemption and second chances. He seems very genuine and we want to give him that chance. We like women like Susan Boyle that get to finally live their dream by showing the world their talent. We read JK Rowling, not just because her stories are fantastic, but because we know how she struggled before they were published.

But why do the backstories of these people matter? Do we feel sorry for them? No. We identify with them. We support them because we are them. If we were to fall like Ted Williams did, we would want someone else to help us back up. If we had a talent like Susan Boyle, we would want the opportunity to show the world. If we were a struggling author like JK Rowling was (and many of us are), we would want the chance that she got when her story got into the right hands.

We’ve all struggled in our lives and we like to hear stories about how those that struggled finally acheived their dreams. It is those stories that keep hope alive. And it is those stories that are more important than anything any author could ever dream up.

Agree? Disagree? To the keyboards!

Author’s Note: Speaking of life stories, mine has taken a twist recently. My mother passed away on New Year’s Eve, so please forgive the lapses in blog posts over the next few weeks as my family and I sort out her matters.


7 Responses

  1. Dear Mark, I was so hoping that Donna would rally and get better. I am so sorry to hear about this. She was such a dear person. She taught me how to knit when several other ladies had given up on me. I will always remember her kindness. She was so proud of you and loved all her children and grand children and alway mentioned how happy she was to be able to go for visits. I am sure it meant a lot to her to be at your home and have her family near by for Thanksgiving and Christmas. God bless you, and keep up the good work that she was so proud of. Kathleen

    • Kathleen,
      So glad you wrote. I’ve been trying to get a hold of someone from mom’s library knitting group to let y’all know that her memorial service is this Sunday, Jan 9 at 2pm at Northwoods Presbyterian Church in Houston. I left a message at the number I had for Sharon Leonard, but never heard back.

  2. My sympathies on the death of your mother. So sad that it will colour Christmas/New Year for you for years to come. I hope she was a good age and died in her sleep – the way most of us would like to go.

  3. First, my condolences on your loss. Mothers are special, good, bad, and indifferent, it’s hard to forget and let go. Hence my comment on your backstory. I believe we all come into this world and live out a story. Why not tell the world about it? Somewhere, someone will relate and perhaps learn something about him/herself. Rowling’s struggles to publish ennervated me to keep trying. I’m published, not at her level, but her backstory was definitely an inspiration.

    • Fran,
      Mom lived with us when she was under hospice care, and yes, there is definitely a story there about her last days with us and her grandchildren.

  4. Dear Mark,

    First of all, heart felt condolences to you and your family on the loss of your mom. Secondly, I have wanted to write you and express to you how much I have learned from your blog about marketing. I am a late bloomer when it comes to writing. I started writing after the death of my dad six years ago because his story was so important. As you might imagine once I started writing his story my story started screaming to be written and heard. I have been actively working on my life story for the last two and a half years and the process has been enlightening to say the least. I have been working with National Association of Memoir Writers, Linda Joy Myers, life writer, coach and psychotherapist, to bring my story into sight. I think I am now at the point of building my platform, and this is where you have been so helpful. Thank you again for your blogs. Sincerely, Helen Lowery

    • Helen,
      Thank you for your condolences. It sounds like your dad had quite the impact on your life. It also sounds like you have some editing help, but if I may, I used Mark Graham of to edit my latest novel , The Brink. He played more of a writing coach to me than just an editor and I highly recommend him.

      Thanks for following my blog and here’s to a prosperous and joyful New Year!

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