One of the exciting times in the life of a writing-workshop instructor comes in watching the stories of new authors emerge.
Usually, this takes discussion, talking about a story possibility. Some stories are obvious; others not so. Often writers aren’t aware that even the tiniest moment can yield a stunning tale. So you wrangle over them, talk them out, parse out their details. Then, usually, a moment occurs when the writer sees the story and all it might be.
I love that part of it. Then they throw themselves into the piece. As they write, then rewrite, their stories peek from the shadows and come to life like photographs, slowly adding detail until a full portrait of an event emerges.
That moment comes at different times with each writer, as it should.
For Jose Nunez, who wrote the story, in this volume, of his trip one night as a kid down the two-block street on which he grew up, it arrived fairly quickly. The trip seemed 20 minutes in his life at first, but as we talked about it during our first workshop, it was clear that the two-block walk was a chance to tell stories of the people who lived along the street.
For Louie Flores, the realization, I think, came when I urged him to tell us – What’s it like to jump from an airplane for the first time? This was a couple meetings into our workshop. He may have been feeling some writer’s block, so I told him, just tell us how that was. Louie grew animated, remembering wafting down through the clouds that day decades earlier. He felt, he said, like sitting “in God’s front yard.” His story is included here.
The storytelling project I call Tell Your True Tale is now in its third volume out of the East Los Angeles Library, thanks to the generous support of the L.A. County Library system.
The narratives here, from new writers all, reflect that excitement for storytelling and the wonder that accompanies watching a great story unfold; indeed, four writers – Louie is one – are repeat TYTTers.
Another, C.J. Salgado, tells the story of his mother, and why she came north from a small Michoacan village all alone.
A writer new to TYTT, Araceli Lerma, recounts the story of meeting the woman whose family home she purchased.
Newcomer Fabiola Manriquez tells the story of meeting Cesar Chavez when she was 11 at an East L.A. parade.
Susanna Whitmore, also a TYTT vet, tells the tale of meeting her future husband, Ondrej Franek, in Czechoslovakia.
Brian Rivera is back with his second story as well, this time of a visit to a legendary soccer stadium.
Once again, I thank Daniel Hernandez, director of the Chicano Resource Center at the East L.A. Library, run by the L.A. County Library system, where these workshops have been held.
I thank, as well, Susan Broman, head of Adult and Digital Services for the county library system.
Thanks also to Eric Franco Aguilar, a TYTT alum, who designed the cover of this volume, as he did Vol. II.
Enjoy this now-third collection of Tell Your True Tale: East Los Angeles stories. Also, check out the county library’s page dedicated to the project: colapublib.org/tytt
Then come write a story of your own.