About a million years ago, I received a gift from a fellow writer, a book called Walking on Alligators by Susan Shaughnessy. I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Shaughnessy, but the book is subtitled A Book of Meditations for Writers, and it has a format similar to a lot of self-help/meditation books: each page features an interesting provocative quote from a well-known writer, a section about how and what we writers do, and then a kind of affirmation, e.g., Today I will write as honestly as I can, or Today I will honor my writing time, and so on.
I’ve never been big on the whole idea of writer’s block (do dentists get dentist block?), but I’ve had periods where I felt uninspired, and other periods where I got “stuck” in a story I was working on and had to go work on something else for a while. This book is a good resource for writers when they need a little inspiration, or even a good kick in the seat of the pants. Some of the readings are great, some aren’t so great, and a few are just plain weird.
Today’s quote comes from Neil Postman, an author I should probably have read by now, but admittedly haven’t. I like the quote, and decided to use it for an image post here today. Without giving it much thought, I decided to use a mandala for the image in the background.
Then, like a lot of provocative quotes, this one led me to muse about culture and politics, about the sacred and the profane. I started to go down a rabbit hole that I honestly don’t have time for today, but I still wanted to get the post out there and have it available for comment. I think the most important thing it led me to, in my short musing time, is the notion that we need great stories. I’ve written about this before, and will probably write about it again, but “narratives of transcendent origin and power” like those that drove so much of Native American culture are difficult to find in current American culture, at least in popular culture. I hope my own efforts – Brothers’ Hand, Jana, and Miles of Files – have some of that much-needed transcendence.
Another type of story that has quite a bit of power is the client testimonial. I’ve never really used many of those, although I am starting to accumulate them. Of course, I have 4-star and 5-star book reviews, and those are testimonials. But if you’ve got a service-based business and you want to gain more clients, telling your previous or current clients’ success stories can really deliver value. It gets people’s interest and shows that you’ve got what it takes to do that for potential clients.
So there’s my lesson for the day: tell your stories, and tell your clients’ success stories. In the end, what else do we have?