discovery #28

i am a storyteller.

i have always had stories. i have led a pretty exciting life--for a girl from peoria. but lately i've been wondering: is it the content or the re-telling that makes for a good story? as i think back to past social interactions, i have strong recollections of bad storytelling. my mother is notorious for this. the actual events could have been hilarious, or terribly sad, or frightening...but told by my mother you felt none of these emotions. and sadly, my mother is not alone.

i could tell you about a routine teeth cleaning and make it entertaining.  i puff up the action, embellish the details, take full creative license in the re-telling. and throughout my life i have always told stories. as a result, my verbal communication skills have the benefit of decades of practice. it is only recently, as i bring these stories to paper, that this discovery has become apparent.

for my creative writing class, we are exploring both fiction and non-fiction. so far, i have submitted two stories--both have been non-fiction. yesterday was my turn to receive feedback on "the wedding story," which is about my backyard wedding, 7 days after hurricane ike hit houston. it's a great story any way you tell it, but i procrastinated and never really developed it the way i planned. in the end, i just stopped writing. i didn't even get to the ending i had imagined...i just cleaned up the typo's and sent it out to my classmates. (with an ann lamott reference to my "shitty first draft" attached)

before my critique began, i made a public apology that my story had been incomplete and a bit boring. everyone looked at my quizzically..."it has great shape" said the professor, "i love the tension" a classmate ventured, "it was beautiful" said another.  i never would have expected such a response. we spent the next half hour discussing my strong use of description and ability to create compassion for my "characters."

i am a storyteller.

even if i felt that it wasn't my best writing...everyone was drawn to the story. i left class feeling that perhaps i should stop judging myself so harshly. and that i am a true believer in building a strong writing community. this group has encouraged me, challenged me, and pushed me to become a better writer storyteller.


  1. oh, I totally think the delivery is what makes a great story.

    I like to think I'm a storyteller as wel...especially when I've had a margarita. ;-)

  2. oh, don't even get me started on the alcohol-enhanced storytelling...