I have two things to ask you today:
- Would you indulge me for a moment? (and)
- Have you ever thought of yourself as a comic book character?
Maybe you're not a big fan of graphic novels. (Or maybe you are!)
Personally, my exposure to graphic novels comes largely from the fact that my husband is a 'comic' fanatic. They are in my house staring me in the face and they are beautiful... so I pick them up, take a walk in a strange land.
How could I resist?
Even if these books are outside the realm of what I normally enjoy, I find them engrossing--I particularly love the concept of the Origin Story.
The Origin Story: the places you've been, the ordeals you've live through that explain who you are today. It tells where you come from, what compels you, what drives you.
Or as in American comic traditions--the story of the trials and difficulties that gave you your own mutant superpowers!
So what do you think? Does this sound like you? Do you have your own story to tell?
What makes me think you have an origin story?
Ok, so maybe you don't have mutant superpowers... but I bet you can relate! I mean, that's part of what makes graphic novels and comics so easy to understand.
Can't you just picture yourself, going about your business, when something crazy happens, forcing you to pull all of your strength together, in ways you never thought were possible? Most of us don't actually mutate. But deep down, we've all had to find our superpowers, I think.
Plus, I have this hunch about you.
You're a reader so are used to thinking in stories. And you live your life in at least two languages.
You've gone on this great adventure of learning another language, of making it yours. Maybe you've moved half way across the world. Or have to express your very best ideas in English. Every day.
Maybe that's your mutant superpower!
- Maybe it's hiding there when your accent comes through in English.
- Maybe you can see it when you phrase something in a way that can be expressed beautifully in your native language, but that just doesn't sound the same in English.
- Maybe you're just really good at seeing things from more than one perspective because you've been accessing the ways of thinking of more than one language for so long.
Maybe those little 'imperfections' you see in your English really are a sign of your struggles--and ultimately your triumph: as someone who has learned to live in more than one language.
I bet you have a story to tell.
The great thing about an origin story: we all have one.
Simply living in more than one language, more than one culture--why it's quite an experience.
Being bilingual is both mundane and monumental. Sometimes stopping to reflect on that journey can really pay off.
And if you think about it, there are so many things we all have in common--so many struggles, so much to overcome in one lifetime.
Maybe that's why books and stories speak to us. Because whether they are fantastic or mundane--in the end, they tell our own stories.
Tell your story: for you and for your English.
I love combining reading with journaling and storytelling. It just makes sense.
There is a certain repetition, in reading and then writing. This repetition is what you need for the language to 'stick' with you.
And there is a chance to go deeper, to challenge yourself more. It will help you take more away from the stories you've read.
I mean that in terms of your relationship with the English language. And I mean that in terms of your development as a human being.
I've already mentioned some of the ways reading impacts your life, not just your English. And here's one of the best articles I've ever read about the way journaling also has a tremendous effect on your life.
I don't think it's surprising at all that doing something meaning, creative and challenging can transform your life and your English at the same time.
So Give it a try!
You've read so many books, with so many origin stories. Comic books are the most obvious example, but how many of your favorite characters have their own story?
Besides, you've developed your own superhuman power. So I invite you to tell your own origin story.
If you're trying to make English your own and feel at home in the language, it's a way of bringing everything together.
You have so many options!
You can write your story as a prompt in your journal.
If you want, you can even decide to polish this draft a bit and check for your most typical errors.
You can share what you've written by sending me an email or by sharing it with the Vagabond English Book Club on Facebook. Or maybe you have a language partner? A trusted friend from this group or somewhere else you'd like to exchange ideas with.
You can decide if this is a shared experience or a solitary pursuit. But I invite you to give it a try. I think you'll find the experience transformational.