I’m not sure what inspired me, but a few nights ago I decided to google my grandparents. I was surprised to discover my mom’s dad has a Wikipedia page. He was a hotshot basketball player in his day. As I read the stats listed for him, and the brief details about the teams he played for, I just kept thinking how much more there was to this man. Over the years I’ve listened intently to the stories my mom has shared about him. Let’s just say, now more than ever, we can’t trust that what we encounter about people online encapsulates the entirety of who they are. I’m sure that’s not news to you. But I know for me, it’s a good reminder.
People can come across however they want to online. But everyone possesses layers and stories that don’t make it to a Wikipedia page—that don’t get showcased on a Facebook status update or an Instagram upload.
Craving the story behind the story is partly what inspired me to become a writer. I wanted to go there.
With my plots and characters. And trust me, my characters have been taking me there lately.
Years ago, I met a woman in a coffee shop who generously offered to trace my lineage for me. I was blown away by the time she invested and her extensive research. When she unraveled two largesheets of paper, detailed with etchings, ancestors dating back to kings and queens (I knew I had royal blood), I was beyond impressed. The other night I dedicated time to study the names in my line. I made note of where my peeps came from, where they’d moved, even the occupations for some. And as awestruck as I was at the details, the dozens of family trees splayed before me, I couldn’t help but itch for the stories.
This sense of wonder has always been an intrinsic part of who I am. I’m not afraid to go there. I love how writing fiction has built a bridge for me, a means to go there through my characters. Because I happen to believe that going there is the most human thing about humanity. It connects us more than it separates, and it has the incomparable ability to open minds and to stretch souls.
Generations deep, I wonder who in my long line also appreciated the stories behind the stories.