SESSION: Leave will the tools to tell your own story and discover how storytelling can serve you and your communities to make change.

WACM: What do you want the audience to take away from your talk?
K: I believe that books are the most perfect democratic invention, and that telling stories saves lives. There is a relationship between reading and writing and a thriving, full-bodied democracy—storytelling emboldens personal growth and societal change in significant ways. I would like the audience to leave my talk with a glimmer of how storytelling can serve them and their communities to make change. This involves finding the right container for the story; the vessel that’s right for one story might not be right for the next. I want to give the audience the tools to tell their stories. I want to fire them up. I want them to leave burning to tell their stories.

WACM: What was a defining (or BOLD) moment in your career or career path?
K: A defining moment in my career was inspired by my friend the artist Melissa Lanitis Gregory. We were both doing work for money in our chosen professions, art and publishing, respectively, and were burning out. We weren’t spending enough time on the things most important to us, and what I was being asked to do on behalf of publishing companies was corrosive. We took a road trip to visit an artist who inspired us to to trust the creative process and live our best, most authentic lives. On our way home, we made a pinky pact to be brave and unapologetic about doing our true work—me with literature, and Mel with art. Soon after, she died unexpectedly. She was 47. I decided that day to start Bona Fide Books, and devote my skills to unsung voices and the power of literature to change lives. It's never too late to change course, or, in my case, to return to the flow.

WACM: What is one piece of advice you would like to pass on to young female entrepreneurs or aspiring community leaders trying to start out today?
K: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, that your dream is impossible, or that you're doing it the wrong way. That is cynicism talking, and you have no time for that – you have things to do! Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Don't try to convince others of your ideas, but welcome those who recognize and support your vision.

Kim Wyatt is the publisher of the award-winning press Bona Fide Books in South Lake Tahoe, California, where she runs the Center for Wayward Writers, home to Tahoe Writers Works, the Lake Tahoe Society for Storytelling & Enlightenment, and Tahoe Letterpress. She also teaches in the Incarcerated Student Program at Lake Tahoe Community College. Before starting a publishing company, she worked as a book, magazine, and website editor for 15 years, and as a feature writer, arts reviewer, and columnist for online and print publications including the Anchorage Daily News and Web MD. She's also been a bunny girl, deckhand, and nurse, and lived in Yosemite National Park for 13 years. Kim holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and is currently working on a poem, an essay, a memoir, a novel, and a half dozen ‘zines.