Writing your life: Why stories matter

We are the only species in the world who defines itself through the telling of stories, in words and music, through art and dance. Our lives are a journey that can be thought of as a story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Stories can show us who we are, as well as illuminate the secret hearts of others, and in doing so, can bring us closer to each other. In viewing our lives as a narrative, we take control of the story, and pick up the pen to our destiny. Not everything can be changed. But our reactions to the things that can’t, and where we situate ourselves in relation to them, is a choice. I will introduce ten simple thoughts, almost like mantras, to illustrate my point. They will serve to show how stories can matter when we are trying to make sense of our lives.

Yasuko Thanh has lived in Mexico, Germany, and Latin America. Her stories have been published in numerous literary magazines, including Prairie Fire, Descant, Fireweed, The Fiddlehead, and PRISM international. In addition to fiction, her nonfiction has appeared in publications as diverse as SPEAK, Vancouver Review, Island Parent Magazine, and subTerrain. Most recently, her work won the 2009 Journey Prize and is upcoming in the spring of 2012, in a collection of short fiction to be published by McClelland & Stewart. She is a member of UVic’s writing department, where she is a teaching assistant for a fine arts course called Creative Being. She is currently at work on a novel, and her master’s thesis.

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