What if your life were illustrated?

How would that change the story you're telling?

What’s the story you’re telling yourself ...

About your life?

About today? Or the future?

About the past? 

Who you were?

Who you are?

I’m asking these questions a lot lately, as a writer who writes memoir, nonfiction and even children’s books, and as an editor helping others tell their authentic stories.

Are you telling the same story over and over, years later, in the same words, with the same conclusions? Or has your story changed over time as you’ve integrated more learning and growth from what it all meant then...and now?

It takes courage to write your story in a way that is not only True but artful as well.  (That idea was articulated by Katherine Standefer, author of Lightning Flowers, as she led a workshop last week for The Examined Life Conference. The conference is still underway and you can register to be able to get recordings if you missed any. I had a blast with Dr. Sarah Averill in our Courage to Write session!!).  To write true and artful means it takes strength of heart. As I like to remind myself, we have to find what fortifies us to find our fortitude—and that’s not just for writing.

What if we could find our way into writing by playing as the illustrator first? What if we could brave the hard times in life by looking at our life as an illustrated story, whether you ever write a book or not?

Playing with photography is good for my soul. Lately I’ve been playing with an iPhone app called Insta Toon (Clip2Comic is also fun). I was first inspired by a local field of hay bales that seem like a Van Gogh scene brought to life. I love looking for that quintessential landscape in the golden hour when the sunshine lengthens the shadows just so. The glow of the landscape “sets my soul on fire” (the song “My one and only love” is playing the background soundtrack in my car these days). Here are some shots from the last week or so as I made my way across town to visit my parents.

What if the story you’re telling were a painting? What style would it be? 

The story my new cat, Tom Jupiter, is telling seems to flow from Super Toon to Gouache to Impressionist, with a few sketches thrown in. A few days after he arrived with Tom as his shelter name, I had a dream of a children’s book called “Jupiter the Cat”.  My dream-aware self said, “And it’s in bookstores!” I took it as confirmation that he’d like to add Jupiter as his last name, and he’d like to star in a book of his own someday. “The Cat With Two Names” —Tom by day and Super Jupiter by the light of the moon.  We’ll shall see...

In the meantime, I’m making notes and turning pics into paintings as an act of self care, not so much an act of book production. 

What about you? How would it change the story you’re telling yourself if you saw your life through the lens of pictures, not words?

What storybook style would you choose?

Shout Out About 3 New Books

The Indie Author by my friend Jas Hothi, founder of IndieAuthor.net. As he puts it, “I hope this book inspires more of us to write and self-publish, with all the freedom in the world to write and shape our books exactly how we want to, without needing permission from any gatekeepers.” To celebrate its release, and NaNoWriMo, the book is available at the special launch price of just $0.99 for the month of November.

The Entrepreneur Advantage: Emotional Intelligence for Building and Growing Your Business: The failure rates for entrepreneurs and small businesses are too high—but they don’t have to be! My friend Elizabeth Miner has been working with entrepreneurs, startups and multinational businesses for a couple of decades and noticed patterns that can help businesses succeed and it’s not being talked about enough.

And, From the Pocket of an Overcoat, by R. Vincent, about a kitty named Max Buckles. It’s the story of self-identity, acceptance, animal rescue and adoption. A friend shared it with my via Instagram and I love the illustrations!! So does Tom Jupiter! :)