Olivia Newport Mom and Tag

Photo by Larry Mohr

From my home in Colorado I talk to my mom in Florida by phone every Sunday afternoon. It’s a lazy time talking about a lot of nothing in no particular hurry, a sort of unspoken competition about who has the duller life. It’s mostly a way of feeling the contentment of being together across the miles. When we run out of nothing, we figure we’re finished.

Every now and then there’s a bit of excitement to recount. One of my mom’s favorite expressions is,

“That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”

It’s a common enough expression, but it sometimes makes me think. Am I writing my own life story, ordinary day by day, or am I just letting life happen to me? The story I stick to shouldn’t merely be an excuse for how I live, but rather a plotline with a strong character—me—finding the answers for the plot twists and turns that happen to all of us. Author Don Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, writes about this theme.

As a novelist, of course I think about story a lot. If I’m going to stick to a story—my own—it had better be a good one.

• How is your life like a story?