The Importance of Telling the Story
Tell the story.
A friend calls. A terrible thing has happened. She’s okay. But this terrible, unthinkable thing happened. She tells me about it in great detail, going over every detail and then back again, looping around and around. I listen, giving her the space to say whatever she needs, to repeat the particulars as many times as necessary.
Because I know she needs to tell the story.
Years ago, we had a fire in our home. My family and animals escaped from the burning house as fire fighters arrived to put it out. We were all okay. Displaced for many months, but okay. I found myself telling the story over and over again. To people. To my journal. In my head as I walked.
Because I needed to tell the story.
Telling the story is healing, people. I would go so far as to say that it is a necessary part of life. Which is why you need to tell your story—whether you’re writing non-fiction or fiction. Because, guess what? Not only is telling the story healing but so is reading it.
When I read a memoir about somebody who overcame great suffering, I’m inspired. It reminds me that the problems I face aren’t such a big deal—and that I can overcome them, too. When I read a novel with a fierce, fearless heroine I remember that I can be that way, too.
And there’s this: in our current political climate, people are seeking stories with happy endings. In a story in Salon, bookseller Leah Koch says, “…we have seen more readers turning to romance than ever before, especially those who are new to the genre.” Others interviewed in the story back her up. People are seeking solace and healing in happy tales.
I can get mired in thinking, where’s the good in writing? Others are out there saving the world, being activists, building wells in Africa, researching cures for cancer. And I just sit at my desk all day and make shit up. But then I am reminded of the power of story. We really can’t live without it. And that’s what you and I are doing. Our words allow people to live vicariously, and hopefully heal a little bit, too.
Never forget that. Telling the story is vital. And that’s your job.
What story are you telling this week? Leave a comment.
This post originally appeared in my weekly newsletter. If you’d like it to come directly to your inbox, sign up on the form to the right. And–I’m gearing up to get back to regular blogging. More original posts soon!
0 thoughts on “The Importance of Telling the Story”
“–where’s the good in writing?” You pose an interesting question. I haven’t found many writers having high-five moments. Guitars are beautiful instruments, made from Sitka spruce, Hawaiian koa, or exotic woods I don’t know. There’s a cult who shop guitars, who buy them and polish them. A cult of people who play poorly or not at all. Though they don’t create music, in a sense they are part of the art, thru their love affair with the instrument.
Writers don’t have that safety net. If you write nothing, no one will look at your computer and tell you how beautiful it is. They may seem captivated while you point out the features of your word processor, but they’re really thinking “Can we just eat now.” Your audience may sing words of encouragement while you describe what you’re “working on,” but in the end we get no satisfaction at all unless we do what you suggest: tell the story.
I’m happy that you intend to blog regularly. You always have interesting things to say. Have a fun week, Charlotte. J.D.
Charlotte Rains Dixon
Thanks for the encouragement, J.D. I’m still working at getting back to blogging regularly, as you can tell, but it is a firm intention. I just had another couple ideas about how to handle it this morning.
Was just thinking about your books–is there a new one in the works? Sure hope so!