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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Widdowson

Everyone Has a Story

Updated: Mar 3

Artwork by Mysticsartdesign in Pixabay, Fantastical large book open with trees and clouds

One day when I was searching the internet for new word ideas to use in my book, I came across a very interesting website. It was The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, and it kind of blew my mind. The author, John Koenig, a videographer, graphic designer and voiceover artist, had made up completely new words to express feelings that simply couldn’t be stated with any words currently in the English language.

But he didn’t just make up words. He built them from foundations, just as all other words evolve. They have an etymology. He has since published a book by the same name and it’s available on Amazon here, and has created a video, of course, that describes the book’s contents. There are also videos to accompany many of the words he’s created. Being both a lover of words and a former videographer myself, I was more than excited. He had merged the best of both worlds for me.

What a great idea! Finding the gaps in our language—missing words that could express an exact idea or emotion—and inventing them. One of my favorite word-video matchups is pâro: the feeling that everything you do is somehow wrong. I know, you’re thinking, what a horrible word to like. Why is that one of your favorites? If it was just the word alone, it wouldn’t be. But the video brings it all together and makes it obvious why the word is something we need in our language.

Another word I love from Koenig’s dictionary, is the one that this blog is all about: sonder—Everyone Has a Story. Sonder means the awareness that everyone in the world has their own unique story. He adopted this word from the French language word, sonder, which means to plumb the depths. It’s easy to forget that everyone’s life is as complex and varied as our own. That we are all shaped by a distinct set of experiences and relationships.

You are the main character of your own story. A story made up of supporting characters of friends and family. A story with a main plot revolving around you and the subplots of not only your supporting characters but also your very distant acquaintances—the people you may meet only once or that enter your life for just a short time.

The scenes and chapters that make up your life story are what give you your unique view of the world. You have your own specific way of looking at and reacting to the people you meet and the events that happen to and around you. And your individual experiences, which alter the way you see the world, are what make your story different from anyone else’s. You make your life choices based on those previous experiences and interactions.

As a writer, I am bringing the word, sonder, to life when I create my stories. Books, poems, blogs and vellas develop first in our imagination, which is colored by the experiences of our own lives and by the stories and personalities of the people we connect with along the way. I love meeting new people and learning about the adventures their lives have taken them on. I enjoy getting to know them and hearing about how they look at life—the exploits and escapades that have shaped them into who they are today.

I often create the characters in my books from a mish-mash of various people I’ve met throughout my life. I mold the way they look, dress, act and speak by combining the traits of multiple personalities, picking and choosing to make them exactly who I need them to be to fit into my story. Sure, I could create them totally from scratch. I could simply make them up, or base some of their characteristics on someone I saw in a movie or read in a book. But it is much more fun, and I think results in a more believable character, when I conjure them up from the people and personalities I’ve met in real life—when I take the stories of those who have been a part of my life adventure and morph them and reshape them into someone entirely new that works in my novel.

When I develop a new character for my book, probably like most authors, I write a backstory for them—a synopsis of the events in their life that made them who they are when they first entered onto my page. I know who they are from birth to the point where they exist in my imaginary world and beyond. I know how they think and feel. I ask and answer questions about them to help me really understand who they are, like: What question do they ask themselves when they meet someone new? If someone screams at them, would they scream back or cower in a corner? Do they have a pet, and if so, what kind, and what did they name it? Without their backstory, it’s often difficult to really get into their headspace—to know what decision they would probably make in a given situation or how they would respond in the middle of a conversation.

What is your story? If someone wrote a book about your life, what genre would it be? A drama? A dark comedy? Or maybe it might even be a fantasy or a sci-fi? Most of our lives can’t be lumped into a single category. It’s more likely to be a young-adult, coming-of-age story in our teen years, a love story when we first meet our life partner, a dark comedy turned tragedy if that first love doesn’t work out, and a family drama if the partnership grows to include children. Lives are complex—different scenes and chapters intertwining and weaving into a web of intricate emotions which impact your next decision and lead you to a new path through the highway of your existence.

Everyone has a story. If someone wrote your book, what would it be about? Ask yourself what kind of story you want to create with your life, then go and live it!

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1 commento

09 feb

Wonderful food for thought. Thank you!

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