Origin Stories

Miss America, aka America Chavez, the Marvel superhero written by Gabby Rivera, has a VERY complicated origin story.

What’s Yours?

We all come from somewhere and we all have a story to tell. Do a quick Google search and you’ll quickly discover that storytelling for brand-building is hot in the corporate world. But that’s not my jam.

I’m about people.

As an editor, I help people perfect what they want to say and give them the confidence to get it out in the world. And as a writing instructor and workshop facilitator, I support writers and non-writers alike to find their stories in the first place.

Unless you were blessed with a robust storytelling gene, it’s not always easy to know your own story. Looking back on your life, you may see so many twists and turns, so many ups and downs, that figuring out how it all led you here can seem impossible. And even though you may not automatically know how to tell or write a story, as a human being, you immediately know a good one, or a bad one, when you see one.

We’ve all been there. We’ve asked someone about something, and heard “first this happened, and then that happened, and then this other thing happened…” and before we’ve known what was happening, our eyes have glazed over, and we’ve excused ourselves to get another drink. We’ve all been the listener and, even worse, the teller of a poorly structured tale and it’s never a shining moment for anyone.

But there’s a solution. On June 4, I launch my online course Origin Stories: They’re Not Just For Superheroes. Designed specifically for entrepreneurs, this four session course will cover everything you need to tell your own story: whether it’s for a bio, blog or article, or for a panel, interview or podcast.

Origin Stories are as unique as fingerprints, and once you understand how to put together where you’ve been, what you’ve learned, and where you’re going, you’ll be able to tell yours with confidence and power.

And you’ll never find yourself awkwardly struggling to introduce yourself, in print or in person, again. REGISTER HERE

Rewriting Your Own Story is Sometimes the Most Important Revision of All

For writers who come from marginalized backgrounds, this is particularly important. As they say, “representation matters.”

This girl thought she’d made all the mistakes, until she realized she’d gained all the wisdom. Or some of it.

Whether I’m editing, teaching, or public speaking, I’m not only committed to educating writers about how to write and publish better books, I’m also committed to being their champion and a constant reminder that they’re worthy of writing, and rewriting, their stories… especially the ones they tell about themselves.

For writers who come from marginalized backgrounds, this is particularly important. As they say, “representation matters.” And when we lack heroes who remind us of ourselves — ethnically, racially, socioeconomically or otherwise — it can be that much harder to see ourselves as the heroes of our own journeys, especially when the going gets rough.

Back when I was starting out in the entertainment industry, “The X-Files” posted an opening for a researcher. As a huge fan of the show and a whiz at research, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. I’d already written a sample script in which Agents Mulder and Scully discover Puerto Rican independence activists fighting the Federal government with brujeria, and saw the position as a launching pad for the fantastic writing career I wanted.

Thrilled when I got called for an interview, I drove to the Fox lot with stars in my eyes. Having nearly memorized the show’s credits, I knew that the woman interviewing me had moved up the ranks from Executive Assistant to Vice President, and I looked forward to impressing her with my mad skills and abundance of arcane knowledge. And, to my credit, I did both. But then, as our conversation was wrapping up, she dropped the bomb. They’d already decided to hire from within, and while they had a writer’s assistant position available, she thought I wouldn’t want it because “assistants don’t get the respect that researchers do.”

At the time I didn’t know that, regardless of potential disrespect, working as an assistant was one of the best ways to get started as a TV writer. I also didn’t know that I should have taken anything she offered. But instead of saying “I’ll take it,” I said “No thanks.”

Then I put my script on her desk and walked out: right past Vince Gilligan, the writer of my favorite “X-Files” episodes and future creator of “Breaking Bad.” He must have assumed I was one of the new assistants because, as I strode by, he shot me a disdainful look, dripping with disrespect.

For too long, I told myself this incident proved I was destined to fail. WHO does that? Aren’t ‘successful’ people smarter than that? Wasn’t I supposed to be smarter than that?

As I matured and gained perspective, however, I rewrote this story — from one that confirmed my incompetence and stupidity, to one that celebrates the courage of a geeky Latina girl from the Bronx pursuing her dreams in Hollywood. Rather than a story about shame, it became a story about experience, and a badge of wisdom rather than a disfiguring scar.

When we rewrite the stories from our past, we rewrite out futures. Stories are that powerful. They give us who we are, and not only can they help turn us from victims to heroes with just a few words, they can do that for our readers as well — especially when those readers have been dying for a story with a heroine just like them: one who learns from her mistakes and grows that much stronger for them.