As the morning light streamed through the window at City Silo and I awaited the arrival of my latte, I sent this text to my husband: “If I ever become a writer, I know what publication I’d like to write for. This one.” Attached was a photo of Storyboard Memphis.
Maybe it’s a luxury to dream as an adult. Maybe it’s a necessity. What happens to us when we stop saying, “If I ever get the chance to…”? I think I had been in that place for a while—that not-dreaming place. Perhaps I thought that was the mile marker of adulthood. I was already living so many of my childhood dreams. What else could there be? But as I flipped through the pages of Storyboard, my heart beat a little faster. The magic of the vision in those pages was clear. The editors were creating a space for Memphians to look back so that we could move forward.
And we have growing room when it comes to doing things better. The Daily Memphian and The Commercial Appeal let us know the here and the now. Publications like The Memphis Flyer help us to see what’s coming ahead. But very few spaces agree to regularly look back at both the good and the bad to help clarify our thoughts on what’s ahead.* That, my friends, is the beauty of this unique publication.
Not long after that text my husband, Jim, encouraged me to enroll in a writing class that was advertised on our neighborhood’s Nextdoor app. He knew of my lifelong desire to write. He saw the open door and gave me just the nudge I needed to walk through. I felt silly and thrilled all at the same time, the way you do when you take that first step toward a dream: totally ridiculous, but like there’s obviously no other option. As a move of both encouragement and faith, Jim even bought a laptop for me. It’s a treasure when the person you love most believes in your dream even more than you do.
As Providence would have it, Mark Fleischer, Publisher and Executive Director of Storyboard, was also the teacher of that class! As I learned with my fellow aspiring writers, a door opened to write an article about Midtown. I reflected on the fact that my grandmother was born into her house on Eastmoreland in the 1930s. As a child, she walked to school with her pet duck on a leash. I live just a stone’s throw from that house now. The resulting article was published in Storyboard, and I became a writer.
The dream came true. Right here. In these pages.
Since then, I’ve taken more classes. I’ve been in writer’s circles and had a mentor. Several national publications have put my thoughts into print. Few things are more exhilarating than having one’s ideas published so that they might contribute to the greater good. C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know we are not alone.” I write so you might know you’re not alone (and some days, I hope you’ll respond somehow, reminding me that I’m not either).
I wonder, dear Reader, what is your dream? What would make you all silly and thrilled, all ridiculous and relentless? What would make an ordinary Tuesday feel like your third-grade birthday party? Because that’s the way I feel every single time one of my stories is printed. It’s an unexpected delight to relive childhood in such an acutely sensational way.
Looking back can be tough for us as individuals, and for us as a city. It’s also a key component of pursuing wisdom, which has always been an undercurrent of my column. Storyboard Memphis has been through a season of online publication recently, but you probably know we’ve just returned to print. Consider picking up a copy. There is something delightfully real about holding ideas that have been typed out onto pages that have been stapled up into books that have been set out onto stands. Words on paper remind us we are human.
Thoughts on life remind us we can dream.
*It must be said that Vance Lauderdale of Memphis Magazine is a champion at this. What a writer! What a storyteller! I own his volumes and consider him a personal hero.
Candace Echols is a Midtown resident, wife, and mother of five. She has written for StoryBoard’s Page One Writing Workshops, and writes in quiet moments from her yellow chair. Candace recently published her first book, the children’s book Josephine and the Quarantine.