mission STORY

Too many irons in the fire. This is a phrase I’ve heard most of my life. I started hearing it as a child. My mom’s voice has stayed with me and, now, decades later, I still hear her voice. Too many irons in the fire.I hear it when I think about my writing life.

I play with many different writing projects. I like to think of it as playing. I don’t have to be serious. Writing isn’t my livelihood. I write for fun. I write for me and for them and for you. I take risks with words. I work them for whimsy and giggles and understanding. Lately though, I’ve been haunted by the phrase from my past: Too many irons in the fire. Am I doing too much? Am I dreaming too big? Am I missing pieces of life I will later regret?


Writing makes me slow down and soak in the moments I would otherwise forget. Writing makes me appreciate this perfectly ordinary little life of mine. Writing forces me to look life in the eyes and live it for real.

I carved out some time today, made myself settle a little. In those moments of just breathing, I realized my writing life doesn’t have too many irons in the fire. There is only one. And it is this:

Stories matter. 

My story. Your story. His story and her story. They all matter. The real stories. The made up stories. The stories that shouldn’t happen. The stories from the past and the ones dreamed for the future.The stories that go beyond our wildest imaginations. The big stories and the little stories. They matter. Every last one of them. Stories matter. And I realize this is my mission. To share my story in order to change lives and to encourage others to share their stories too. As we listen and connect and laugh and cry and giggle and smirk we will understand others at their core. Our lives will change, and in turn, we just may make the world a better place. All because of story.

mission STORY. 
It’s a good one.

Let's Be Email Pals!

Teaching writers doesn't have to drown us.

Enter your information to receive my free eBook, plus weekly tips and encouragement for teaching writers.

Don't worry, I won't send you spam, and you can unsubscribe any time. (I'd hate to see you go, though.) Powered by ConvertKit


  1. I so agree, Ruth. I have found I need to get these stories down on paper. It helps me process. It helps me remember. Everyone has a story to tell.

  2. Amazing how those two words carry so much meaning! You're right, stories matter. For ourselves, stories validate who we are. For others, stories are what connect us as human beings, what let us empathize and learn and value each other. That's why I feel like I really know people when we read and comment on each others' blogs — sharing stories is sharing ourselves. Thanks for the powerful reminder of what writing does for the world!

  3. I love your graphic: mission, story. That's enough to keep so many irons in the fire, isn't it? Interesting how our mothers' voices keep ringing in our ears, & perhaps it's good to help us reflect on our lives, to see if it's really the path we want to take. Your words, 'stories matter' are so powerful. I've been using 'tell a story' in almost every part of the lit work I do with teachers; fiction, poetry, non-fiction-we tell stories. Thanks for working out the thinking in this, Ruth!

  4. Oh, reading your posts is like snuggling in a blanket fresh out of the dryer! I still have some ideas of “little things” posts you've inspired, and now I have to add this post to my list of springboards. I especially love the way you arranged the words in this post. And I am eternally jealous of your ability to create awesome graphics. I am going to learn how and join you one day!

  5. “Encourage others to share their stories too.” That's what you do for me. This post is inspirational in so many ways. I keep scrolling up, reading and rereading. So many favorite lines that touch my writer heart!

    Stacey wrote about Pinterest tonight . . . wonder if I can “pin” blog posts? This would be on my writing inspiration board!

  6. Awwww. Ruth. You hit the nail on the head. I couldn't agree more that our stories help us know each other to the very core. All stories have value. All stories are worth their weight in gold. Thank you for beautifully crafting this motivational post. I feel again (as I do with many of your thought-provoking pieces) that this should be framed above my desk.

  7. I am with Christy. I love the graphic and your thoughtful words. It makes me think of the power of written words. It also makes me reflect on my own mission. Why do I spend all this time writing and thinking about writing? One thing I know for sure is that I want kids to know they have a story to tell and their words have power. Very inspiring post, Ruth.

  8. Ruth, I love this post. Especially this, “And I realize this is my mission. To share my story in order to change lives and to encourage others to share their stories too.” Beautiful. And you do this. Talking with you at the ALAN breakfast encouraged me to keep sharing my story, so thank you. 🙂

  9. Your mission spills from you on to others. Thanks for affirming the mission that stories matter. I agree with Diane. What is my mission? Connecting books with kids. If I hadn't written in study group, I don't think I would have connected my story to my mission. I believe in the power of writing and that everyone has a voice. The little people in our lives have stories to share – all the time. Just visit a kinder classroom and you'll hear it. Loved the way you crafted your words. Snippets of important stuff. Thanks for modeling your thinking. :)MHG

  10. It is very difficult to comment after all the meaningful and reflective responses. The fact that you show how you sometimes wonder about your writing life and then return to the strong sense of yourself as a writer and your purpose- all of it is inspirational.