By Kelsey Boudin
President and Founder, Southern Tier Communications Strategies, LLC
My mom gifted me this little, decorated wooden block upon my graduation from college. It’s painted a very elegant brown, about six inches long, with a beautiful, gilded compass pictured above what looks to be a world map from yesteryear. Inscribed in various ornate fonts, it reads: “The World is Waiting to Hear Your Story.”
It meant the world to me, as someone with a shiny, new mass communications degree. It gave me a sense of purpose. Even if I knew full well the writing profession would offer some of the most treacherous and uncertain paths to success — while still having zero clue where those often penniless paths might lead — the small trinket allowed me to take that first step forward with confidence. I knew that even if there seemed to be not a single soul on the planet who wanted to read my work, there would always be that one: my mom.
That wooden block continues to follow me each step of the professional journey. It sits atop my desk, sometimes somewhere beneath loads of clutter and paperwork and disorganized organization. From journalism to marketing to nonprofit grant writing, it has served as inspiration even when it wasn’t visible. In the highest highs and the lowest lows, from winning writing awards to being a part of massive layoffs, that little decoration has solidified my professional mission with purpose.
I believe writing is the most difficult form of expression. Anyone who has ever written a senior thesis, quarterly report or even an email to a co-worker knows how hard it can be to string together a series of coherent thoughts. Sprinkle in the expectation of proper spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax in front of an informed audience, and the aggravation can be mind numbing.
But there’s something romantic to the craft. Done right, writing can roll smoothly and poetically, descriptively and convincingly, informatively and effectively. Writing can entertain. It can convey important information and illustrate realities. It can heal wounds and cause unthinkable amounts of damage. Used in conjunction with other forms of multimedia, it could build and destroy worlds.
News writers and historians use writing to chronicle the world’s events. Politicians use writing to build narratives around policies and campaigns. Marketers use writing to answer consumer questions, as well as to develop interest and convey necessity toward products and services. Nonprofits use writing to build community initiatives around expressed needs.
We, as human beings, use the language behind writing in our daily lives to engage our world and the people in it. In a way, some part of the world is always waiting to hear your story.
What’s your story? We all have a story to tell. Let’s tell it well.