Writer and publisher stephanie outten shares her writing journey
I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve gotten the question, “Why did you decide to write a book?” I smile every time I get asked. I’m grateful, though, that I can smile now because when I was writing my first book, there were so many tears. Whew!
Writing, for me, has been cathartic. Coming from a place of hurt, it was exactly what I needed in order to begin the healing process. I needed to get things off of my chest without having to speak them. The words on the pages needed to speak on my behalf, at the time, and shift me from a place of emotional bondage, to a place of liberation deep in my soul.
It’s pure peace and joy when I’m able to take what’s inside my head and put it on paper. Whether I write in my journal, type into my phone, or type into an electronic document, I write to bring myself to a place of wholeness - a place of feeling full and complete. I believe everyone should have that type of experience when they write.
"Writing, for me, has been cathartic."
My transition from reader to writer began as a way to heal from past emotional scars that had reopened. After having gone through a failed in vitro-fertilization attempt, I was at a place where I had to confront a series of other painful experiences that had been weighing me down without ever realizing it. I was still emotionally and spiritually bleeding. I was hurt, embarrassed, and my hormones were all over the place from all of the treatments. I needed a place to bury all of the pain, so the Lord released me to write my story in a fictional way.
Now that I’ve written one book and contributed chapters in two other books, I spend my time coaching others to write the stories the world has been waiting for them to share. Also, as an independent publisher, I help them get their books into the marketplace.
So, as a writer who is also a publisher, here’s my advice as you prepare to write your own fiction stories:
STEPHANIE OUTTEN'S TIPS FOR WRITING FICTION
I hope this helps you along your journey to becoming a great fiction writer. When you’re ready to write and/or publish, let me know!
REFLECTION AS INSPIRATION by memoir magazine founder, mARY MCBETH
As a writer, activist, and woman of color, I created Memoir Magazine to foster more empathy for the women of color experience, particularly African-American Women. I wanted to create a place where our stories could make the most impact in society at large, where people everywhere could experience more of the rich tapestry of our lives, our hearts and minds, as well as the vital roles we continue to play in the cultural collective of this nation. After all, nothing fosters empathy like a walk in another person's shoes, and memoir offers that opportunity.
I knew that we, as women of color writers, needed a literary magazine that would fairly consider our reality in the wider literary landscape, and I wanted to create a safe space for us to tell our stories, without judgment, because I know the power of writing to heal the writer as well as the reader.
"WE HAVE BEEN YOKED BY THE NOTION THAT WE MUST PRESENT OURSELVES AS CLEAN AND GOOD AND PERFECT TO BE ACCEPTED—INSTEAD OF THE BEING OURSELVES, BEING REAL PEOPLE WITH REAL PERSONALITY FLAWS, REAL ILLNESSES, REAL EMOTION, REAL NEEDS, ALL OF WHICH CONTRIBUTE TO THE REAL BEAUTY WE HOLD INSIDE OF US."
For example, writing ushered me through much of my challenges with perfection and acknowledging the pressure put upon us to be perfect. My father used to tell me that I had to be twice as good as everybody else to get anywhere in America. He was right of course, but a side affect of what I call the “walk it off” belief is that, just like society at large, I too began to discount my own emotions. For far too long, we have been yoked by the notion that we must present ourselves as clean and good and perfect to be accepted—instead of the being ourselves, being real people with real personality flaws, real illnesses, real emotion, real needs, all of which contribute to the real beauty we hold inside of us.
We writers are charged with churning this notion into dust. Not only does this idea of perfection create obstacles to good writing, but also it is a kind of (often tragically self imposed) abuse to our intelligent women ancestors. By adhering to oppressive standards of perfection, we are silencing the stories and struggles of our ancestors, maintaining a status quo where we are expected to be and stay silent about our realities—at the cost of ourselves and society in general.
We can stay silent no longer. We cannot leave our feelings and valuable self-reflections out of our narratives.
With Memoir Magazine, I want to contribute to a world in which every woman of color feels like an integral valued part for society and has greater empathy for herself, by fostering an environment for more vital emotional truth-telling in our work and the healing that comes from laying our collective burdens down.
MEMOIR MAGAZINE IS CURRENTLY TAKING SUBMISSIONS! CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE: mEMOIR MAGAZINE sUBMISSIONS
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