Words I won’t forget

By Lauren Bannister

Silence envelops the room as I sit here reflecting on my experiences from this weekend at The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. As the journey back from Grapevine began, I thought about my assignment: what would I write about? With so many possibilities to choose from, I struggled with how I would put my experience into words.

This year at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference there were an array of speakers, journalists and authors. There were stories about war, blackouts, slums and much more.

Overall, there were writers who have been there, done that and gave some pretty good advice.  

I love quotes. I call myself a quote hoarder because they are great to use for any occasion. Quotes can be a catalyst for inspiration and motivation. They accompany a long list of things that will travel through time and be universal among generations to come.

This weekend, I listened to many speakers give advice, so instead of trying to focus on one specific speaker, I compiled a list of quotes I believe are useful in writing, but most importantly, also in life.

1. “It doesn’t really matter what it is that trips your wire, just go on high alert when it’s tripped.” – Katherine Boo

Boo says going against something essentially can motivate you to understand what you are fighting for. The world is full of different sides and opinions, and trying to navigate what we believe isn’t always the easiest process. Paying attention to the things that irritate you rather than motivate you can lead you in the right direction.

2. “Getting it right matters way more than whether or not you can make people care.”- Katherine Boo

In journalism, facts are everything. You have to back everything up with facts. But, this is also true in life. Focus on being true to yourself and your authenticity will attract the right people.

3. “I believe that journalism empowers people.”- Scott Farwell

Journalism is the gathering, analysis, creation, and presentation of news and information. It is an essential form of communication. When done correctly, stories have the ability to connect people on all platforms and get a message across. True journalism is powerful in its ability to reflect the truth and display what is occurring in our world.

4. “I think the things that matter the most are the hardest to talk about.”- Sarah Hepola

As human beings, we often find it difficult to sit down and talk about how we truly feel. We often forget how to simply talk. No yelling, arguing or disagreeing. We need to focus on talking about the things that matter most to us.

5. “Other people’s opinions of me are generally not my business.”- Jia Tolentino

This quote has stuck with me the most since I heard it.  As a person that has struggled deeply with caring about what people think about me due to being self-conscious, hearing this gave me a new outlook. It is impossible to make everyone “like” you. The more you focus on being yourself, the more authentic you are. Life is too short to worry about pleasing everyone.

6. “Do not define yourself in ways that are limiting.”- Charles Johnson

People tend to limit themselves in what they believe they are capable of doing and what they can do. It never hurts to dream. Dream big. There are endless possibilities to throw out into the universe. The more you confine and define yourself in ways that are limiting, the less you potentially believe you can achieve. Believe in yourself and anything is possible.

7. “I always remind myself, I’m not the sum of my best or most difficult circumstances, and neither are the people I report on.” – Katherine Boo

Life is too short to sit around and dwell on the past. But, it isn’t always easy to stay focused on only the future. It’s an easy concept to talk about, but hard to put into effect. Remembering that our past does not define us is essential. We have to remember to not be so hard on ourselves, and that the people we talk to are just like us in some way.

8. “The creative process, to me, is about two things: discovery and problem solving. And, no two things that you do are ever the same, so it’s always exciting.”- Charles Johnson

Very seldom do we do two things the exact same. When it comes to the creative process, you can approach it in any way. I encourage everyone to get in touch with their creative side. Be curious, ask questions, solve problems, and do it all over again. Keep creating, and keep storytelling.

9. “Part of your life as an artist involves endless curiosity and being inquisitive and wanting to know.”- Charles Johnson

Artist or not, life is about creating. Everyone can create. I love waking up every day being curious and wanting to learn more. Never stop asking questions. The world is always changing and our job as human beings is to be curious, to ask questions and to learn.

I am very grateful for this past week at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction workshop. My love for storytelling feels renewed, and I am stepping away with a fresh outlook. I will keep every line I heard this weekend close to my heart and continue to use it as I progress forward. I have never been more excited to discover, create, and tell my stories to the world.

Featured Image: Mayborn LitCon “The Power of Words” Program. Photo courtesy of Junebug Clark