Brooke Linville is a writer, storyteller, and entrepreneur in Boise, Idaho. She is a single mom with two boys. Her published work can be found in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Magic, Entropy, Women’s eNews, the Idaho Statesman, and others. Her unpublished work can be found in folders and baskets around her house. Brooke’s on-stage stories have been featured in Story, Story Night, Boise Startup Week, and recently on the TedxBoise stage. She can be found online at brookelinville.com.
I’ve been telling stories all my life: I told my life story to anyone who sat next to me on the United flight between Norfolk and Chicago on my way to my dad’s for summer vacation; I wrote an award-winning story in fifth grade about Hopper the frog who had to move from his mom’s lily pad to his dad’s; and I wrote about every notable event for my high school newspaper as the Editor-in-Chief for two years. Writing was as much a part of me as my thick, curly hair.
I didn’t major in creative writing though. As I approached adulthood, it seemed that “writer” was something you aspired to, dreamed of one day becoming. It wasn’t something you were. So I became a teacher, then started a web design and social media company, then helped my husband launch a virtual reality startup. I’m not sure they were any more reasonable career choices, to be honest. And yet, I felt like telling others that I was a web developer when they asked what I did was somehow more legitimate than writer. I wouldn’t have to tell them that the only place they could find my novel was shoved in file folders in the back of a closet. I did have publishing credentials – Women’s eNews, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Entropy. But it never felt like enough to justify the title: writer.
After my divorce in 2016, I recommitted to my writing. I finished the aforementioned novel, submitted it to agents, got some really helpful feedback. I loved writing that story, but I agree with the agent that told me that it wasn’t the novel I should launch my career with. Career, she said career. So I’ve put that project on the shelf, and now I’m back to writing, exploring, considering, drafting, revising. And learning.
One of my biggest challenges in writing narrativ
es has been with story structure. I can write a nice sentence, but those thoughts don’t always come together in a satisfying story arc. So I’ve decided to take a few months and throw myself into learning as much as I can about perspectives on outlining and developing plot points. It’s my version of a self-made MFA.
As a regular attendee at writer’s events, I’ve also begun to pay attention to what makes a presentation memorable and engaging. Being able to tell a story on the page doesn’t always translate to being able to tell a story on the stage. In addition to honing my writing craft, I’ve also turned to learning more about live, on-stage storytelling in hopes that one day I can give memorable talks at writer’s conferences and other events. The first time I stood before a crowd of two or three hundred telling a story without notes, I was terrified, my voice shaking and my hands trembling. But I’ve continued to do it, and I’m starting to overcome the fear and be more confident in that skillset. It’s exciting to see performance reemerging as a part of storytelling.
As a result of this work, this last month, I gave a Tedx talk in Boise about helping raise $12 million to save my college. I drafted the story as I would any other for submission, revising and rewriting. And then I worked in my public speaking skills to be able to effectively deliver the message, practicing the talk several times a day, continuing to tweak as it was spoken aloud. Though not necessarily publication related, I consider it a highlight of my professional development to date.
I still have a web design business and do some social media consulting. But if you find me at a dinner party and ask me what I do, I now answer, “I’m a writer.”
Find Brooke's Tedx Talk here!
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I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.