Story Telling the Story


courtney-writing-march-30th-2009 

I used to think a story was all about getting from point A to point Z with lots of interesting things in-between. That to write a story you sat down in front of a computer, wrote the first line of the story and wrote in a straight line from the start to the finish. So it comes as no surprise that I really didn’t get anywhere with writing stories and that I failed many times. Writing became something I couldn’t do. It was overwhelming, exhausting and the worst thing; demoralising. I expected the story to reveal itself in an easy to follow flow and when it didn’t, I punished it. To my great shame, I confess that I struck each little story’s fingers with rulers; I spoke to story’s with a cold voice, thinking that I could whip them into shape with strong discipline. It never worked, and I think I may have even scared several story’s away.

So this time when this new Story, still so small, came quietly creeping into the back of my mind, she was, no doubt scared from the repeated warnings to stay away that the other story’s I have lurking there. Story’s who wrongly assumed that they were unloved and unwanted because they were un-worked; who might have tried to tell this new Story to find another mind to be birthed into. But this precious Story is stubborn and strong, she has taken up residence for the last few months in a corner of my creativity, prodding me every now and then to remind me that she does indeed exist but far enough away that I can’t yet call her my own; its self preservation I’m sure.

So I have taken a different tack to try and lure her out of her hiding place. Coxing her with gentleness and proving my worth by having a hand holding a pen, asking Story to reveal her brilliance when ever I can find the time to dedicate to her. She hasn’t started the story at the start, my new friend Story; and instead of reprimanding her, telling her to be sensible and do things in order, I have simply sat and listened, written and smiled. I am to write, even if it is without any kind of order. Higgledy piggledy is good enough for me right now.

 Truth is, I’m not sure how Story really begins at all. There is a general idea of the story arcs for the three main characters that she has shared with me, and there is a loosely based plan of getting them from one situation to the other…. but the details are sketchy. Each day I write, I say to the voice in my head that I now recognise as Story, “OK Story, what are you going to reveal to me today?” And Story seems to like it this way. Who am I’m to argue with her? She holds the glory within her; currently it would be generous to call me her typist.

There are times when Story tells me about the same situation twice, with different twists each time. I like to think that it’s a sign that Story is starting to trust me and that she expects me to sort out the little hiccups and make the flow orderly. I like that she trusts me to use the cut and paste tools on my computer when I transpose the handwritten to the computer screen to smooth out the wrinkles.

Because I’ve discovered that sitting at the computer does not work for Story and me. Maybe it’s the clacking of the computer keys that scares her away. There is the very real possibility that I have to still allow a small chunk of mind to work on the mindlessness of getting the right fingers to the right keys, and Story is jealous and wants all my mind for herself when she is telling me the story, I’m not sure. But when Story is in full flight, she is demanding and wants my full attention. So we have come up with the solution of using the piles of notepads I’ve had stored in my writing bureau for the longest time.

There is something relaxing about holding a pen in my hand, feeling the sweep of the outside of my hand brush along the paper as I weave Story’s words in the ink. I’m particular about the pen I use in our writing sessions. It has to be the ‘right one’ – whatever right means at that particular moment. Story understands this about me; she isn’t the only one who has issues. I enjoy the sound of Story’s voice and the nib scratching over the top of the paper, ink leaving indelible proof that I tried, just one time more with Story to fulfil the gift I think, hope, sometimes believe has been placed in me. I enjoy looking over the number of pages filled with ink at the end of a session of writing, feeling the thrill inside that together we have come so far.

 I’ve learnt, even in this short time with Story, that it’s OK to write in messy patches. That sometimes things don’t have to go from start to finish, and most of the time life isn’t like that anyway and who was I trying to kid? All those books I’ve flipped through teaching me how to write, and never once did I stumble across the idea that it’s OK to write in a mess and piece it together like a puzzle later. But now that I’ve been shown how and have cut myself some slack, I read more and more published authors write in the same manner. I find it comforting, and I don’t mind that Story is gloating at me; so she was right, good for her; good for me!

I’m not ready to share anything that I’ve written with Story. It still feels too new, too raw. In my youth I was eager to show pieces written much too early to people who didn’t truly understand what writing as a medium was like. It was schooled into me that there should be a beginning, middle and end to the writing of a story, which really screwed up my writing for years, and Story has shown me that that’s just not true. But rest assured. Story seems to be gaining in strength. I can’t wait to see her in full flight.

Comments

  1. Oh I think you just opened a door for me!!!!!!!
    Thank you.. and thank your Story too!

  2. Wow! You have dug down deep and shared some powerful insights. Looking forward to the full flight! Free falling!!

  3. Good luck with Story. I know writing can be frustrating and scary, but at the end, you will have something (not sure what yet) to show for it.

  4. I love how you have personified this journey, if that makes sense. 🙂

  5. Jullienne says:

    I bet ya that Story is a lovely and beautiful thing! Sometimes its hard to come out from hiding spots. It’s all warm and comfy in there – regardless of the dark.
    Coax Story out gently and one day we will see Story SHINE brightly!

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