Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Never Doubt The Impact of a Story on Our Readers

by Sarah Sally Hamer @SarahSallyHamer

Do our stories have impact on our readers? Can we change a life? How do we change a life?

All of those questions are hard ones to answer. As an avid reader for my entire life, I have been impacted by more stories than I can describe. In fact, sometimes I learned a lot of amazing wisdom from a fictional story, something I applied and was the better for. It also inspired me to try to write things that might help other people with their own situations. 

I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation of the 50th anniversary North American tour of Jesus Christ Superstar in New Orleans recently. I’d never seen it before, but I knew the story and what would happen. It was an incredible event. I was given the privilege to speak at the cast party after that performance -- I had a story I wanted to tell them. 

When I was much younger, I lived with my family in a small town in Missouri at the bottom of a hill. One of my sister’s “wild child” friends was coming to visit. He had dropped out of high school a couple of months before and was running with a tough crowd. We could hear his motorcycle come over the hill and, as soon as he crested it, he started singing at the top of his lungs. “Jesus Christ! Superstar!” which echoed through the valley. 

When he pulled up in the driveway and took his helmet off, he asked us, with a huge grin on his face, if we knew that Jesus had walked across a swimming pool. He didn’t, because he’d never been to any church, had no real knowledge of the story. He spent the next hour describing every scene in the movie. Experiencing it changed his life. He went back to school and became a better man.

I wanted to tell the cast that memory of mine because we never know exactly who will we affect with our own stories. People we will never meet at any time in our life may find something important or even life-changing in our words, simply because it touches something deep inside of them. Of course, the crucifixion story stands on its own, but we each have a story to tell, something that can really matter. Even if we never know it.

So, back to my questions. Do our stories have an impact on readers? Possibly. We are the children of survivors, who taught us important things. They may make a difference to someone else. Can we change a life? Maybe. What have you learned that you can share? Maybe it’s a story of a family finding solutions to their problems. Or a person overcoming an event of major proportions.

Finally, how do we change a life? Simply by being honest with ourselves and others. By telling our stories. By caring about others enough to share.

What stories have changed your life?


Sarah (Sally) Hamer, B.S., MLA, is a lover of books, a teacher of writers, and a believer in a good story. Most of all, she is eternally fascinated by people and how they 'tick'. She’s passionate about helping people tell their own stories, whether through fiction or through memoir. Writing in many genres—mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, medieval history, non-fiction—she has won awards at both local and national levels, including two Golden Heart finals.

A teacher of memoir, beginning and advanced creative fiction writing, and screenwriting at Louisiana State University in Shreveport for over twenty years, she also teaches online for Margie Lawson at Sally is a free-lance editor and book coach at Touch Not the Cat Books, with many of her students and clients becoming successful, award-winning authors. 

You can find her at or


  1. I love this story, Sarah. Maybe in heaven will find out how our stories affected our readers. Until then, we will keep writing stories.

  2. Great reminder, Sally. "Do our stories have an impact on readers?" I believe everything we say, do, or write impacts people. The effect may be small or large, and we may never know the long-term consequences, but stories change the world.

    1. I agree! I've never understood why we have to write stories and movies that show the "underbelly" of vice. Our lives can't always be roses and chocolate but we can at least focus on the positive. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Great reminder about why we do what we do! It's nice to be told personally when a story matters to someone, but I find it incredibly exciting to "daydream" about the lives that might be touched by something I write that I'll never know about this side of heaven. Thanks for sharing.

  4. It is nice to have the affirmation! Thanks for the comment.

  5. I remember when it came out. I live in NY and was able to see it on Broadway. It was memorizing! We plant our seeds and hope they take root, yet we may not see it. It was wonderful for you to share this with us and with the cast!

    1. I was glad to have that opportunity. It seemed to mean something to them -- not a dry eye in the house. :) Several of them thanked me afterwards. Wonderful, committed, and talented people.