the kinetic pen

wired by words

Why You Need a Juicy Backstory


There’s always a story behind the story. Our job as writers is to do that story justice. 

In my case, I have as much fun sharing the backstory to my creative nonfiction book as I do crafting the story itself.

On a Saturday over breakfast, as my husband and I were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, I lamented that I wanted to write a book but had lost interest in the memoir I’d been tinkering with for a while. He said, “Why don’t you write about Bonnie?”

Bonnie and I (along with my husband and nearly 40 others) had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2008 to raise money for cancer research and awareness. The trip was two years after Bonnie lost her husband in a freak accident. For her, the climb was a symbolic triumph over hardship – a tangible way for the two-time cancer survivor to prevail over pain once more. (And she found a second chance at love in the process. Bonus!)

I knew it would be an honor to tell her story, but worried she wouldn’t want to go into the details I’d need to extract to tell it fully. Nevertheless, it was a great idea, and so I called her Monday morning. Bursting with nervous energy, I went on and on (and on) about my idea, and when I was done, there was silence.


“On Saturday morning, probably about the time you were having breakfast, I was praying. I said, ‘God, I have no idea how, but it’s time. It’s time I tell my story. Robin, God brought you to me.'”

I cried immediately. And because of that moment, no matter how frustrated I get because work deadlines interfere with creative writing time, I have never doubted that this project is supposed to happen, that it is my calling to share with the world this woman’s harrowing, brave, and ultimately healing journey.

What’s your story behind the story?


Author: thekineticpen

Freelance journalist working on a narrative nonfiction book about a woman who, after the freak death of her husband, decides to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to deal with her grief and finds a second chance at love.

6 thoughts on “Why You Need a Juicy Backstory

  1. I teared up for a moment there too! It is amazing when the Universe sends us a clear message, isn’t it! All the best to you as you follow your path and tell Bonnie’s story.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement. Every bit helps! And yes, it’s lovely when you can just sit back and watch good things unfold. (Well, I suppose I’m not just sitting back. But feeling that there’s a master plan behind all of this takes some of the pressure off when I start to feel discouraged.) The best to you as well.

  2. Robin, I will never tire of hearing this story. It is a powerful testament to the importance of feeling connected to our purpose for writing our story. Beautiful!

    • Sometimes I need to re-read it myself. I never question my purpose with this project, but it’s nice to be reminded of all the truly amazing details that lined up to make it happen.

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