Your stories, my stories, everybody's stories are important because whether memoir, personal essays or fiction other peoples stories can shine a light on our own lives. I learn this over and over when I teach. In my new class yesterday, Advanced Non-fiction at the Writers' Program at UCLA Extension, I hear about twelve new memoirs and essays that everyone will work on for the next six weeks. Though all are intensely personal, we can relate to each story, learn something. Everyone is excited; they have six weeks to write a polished essay or a chapter and possibly a book proposal for a memoir. When you take a course you have permission to really focus on your writing and to become as selfish as you need to be to get your work done. (And even if you're not taking a course and need permission to get selfish I'll give it to you right now.)
As writers we sometimes don't take our experiences/stories seriously enough. There's a voice in our head saying: Who cares? What will people think? This is too personal. This is just our crazy critic trying to sabatage us. Ignore the voice. A story that digs deep, is honest and true, can make a difference in this world. Write your story.
FYI: I keep sending little hysterical emails to the Typepad Team trying to get the Comment section up and running again. And to also update the ancient book list and banner for this blog. I'm hopeful that this will be settled very soon.