Story Writing Workshop – Writing Guide Part 1
Last fall I announced the start of a third book featuring stories from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender law enforcement professionals. I’ve heard from officers around the country that these books are still very valuable and the demand for more stories has inspired me to get busy on the next collection. But we can’t publish another book without your contribution, so today, January 1, 2015, I am asking YOU to get started on writing your story and to share it with the world. In fact, I’m asking you to make this one of your New Years Resolutions for 2015.
The most common response I get when talking to law enforcement professionals about being part of our book is, “My story isn’t very interesting.” My response is always, “Perfect. That’s just what our readers are looking for.” The purpose of sharing stories in books like “Coming Out From Behind The Badge” and “American Heroes Coming Out From Behind The Badge” is to inspire those too afraid to come out to find the courage necessary to come out and to live their lives as they were created to be. We want readers to see themselves in the stories of those who have come out and found success. Of course, there are always challenges and, perhaps, some excitement in some of the stories we receive, but no matter how easy or challenging your journey has been, there is great value for others in what you have to share.
I am looking for stories from men and women, young and old, from the west coast, mid-west, and the east; from the north to the south in large agencies and small. Our readers include young teens who wonder if a law enforcement career is a possibility for them as well as middle-aged and senior members of law enforcement who have been struggling for years with their sexuality. Our books have been used in college classes around the country to help students understand what being L, G, B, or T in law enforcement is like. Your story can educate, inspire, and might even save the life of a closeted LGBT member of law enforcement who is on the verge of giving up because they don’t see a way out.
We have established a timeline for this project that includes a deadline for all story submissions of June 30, 2015. Our goal for publication is April 2016. Stories can be submitted at anytime by clicking on Submit A Story at the top of our website. Your writing does not have to be perfect as we have a professional editor who will clean up grammar, spelling, and punctuation so that your final story looks and sounds great.
For each of the next six months, we will publish an article with some coaching on how to write your story. Of course, you don’t have to wait for us to get started, but for those of you who would like some regular coaching, just follow along and work on your story a little at a time. So let’s get started!
Writing Guide 1 – Where To Start
The first question to consider is where to begin. Our readers include young and old and they want to find commonality in their own life experiences. One central theme I will be using in this book is “life is a journey.” Who we are today is shaped largely by the events we’ve witnessed and experienced and those people we meet along the way. Think about your life’s journey so far. Consider these questions:
What events did you experience that shaped your coming out experience?
Who are the people you met along the way that inspired you to come out or who kept you in the closet?
What messaging did you hear growing up from your family, teachers, religious leaders, and schoolmates about being LGB or T?
When did you first realize your sexuality and how did you know?
What inspired you to pursue law enforcement as a career?
What part did religion play in your life?
How did you reconcile your faith and your career with your sexuality?
When did you come and how did you do it?
This is a good list of questions to get started with for now. As you write, imagine you are talking to your best friend. Take that person back into your life so that they can see it and feel it as you did through your words – be descriptive. Take your time and don’t worry about how long your story becomes. Most finished stories end up being at least 5 pages, but we have some that are over 20 pages, which is great, so just write.
My suggestion is that you set up a document on your computer that you can access easily as ideas and events come to mind. Start out by outlining the major points in your life that you want to include. The questions above can serve as the framework for an initial outline. In the coming months, I will prompt you to think about more specific things to include as you wish. The most important thing now is to get started!
You can always use Contact Us link at the top of our website to ask questions and to get help. Thank you in advance for your interest and participation.
Greg Miraglia, Founder and CEO – Out To Protect