All I knew then was what I couldn’t do.
All I knew then was what I wasn’t, and
it took me some years to discover what
I was. Which was a writer.
By which I mean not a “good” writer
or a “bad” writer but simply a writer,
a person whose most absorbed and
passionate hours are spent arranging
words on pieces of paper…I write
entirely to find out what I’m thinking,
what I’m looking at, what I see and
what it means….What is going on in
these pictures in my mind?
I have never thought of myself as a Storyteller.
Not until Cowbird.
So my life is now divided into BC (Before Cowbird) and AC (After Cowbird).
I felt quite lost when I signed up, because I didn’t think I had any stories to tell.
If you are new here, maybe you feel the same, but still you are here, to try. BRAVO!
Focus your attention, and your Stories will come. Promise. Mine did.
I was encouraged by the Six Word Rule: A Story has to be at least six words.
That opened the door, and I crept in, hoodie pulled down over my face so that no one would see me.
Then, word by word by word, I posted my first stories, telling myself that it would be OK if no one liked my stories.
At least I was writing.
When I got my first “love,” from B, I was astonished. (Thank you, Dear B. Your ‘love’ meant the world.)
Now, the very air around me glitters with stories, stories like fireflies, stories like gold dust in a mountain stream, stories like shooting stars, stories like firecrackers. stories like voices in my head scrolling out opening lines like a news ticker full of the days events.
There are times when I ask my Muse to “Stop with the stories! Have mercy!”
What happened? Where did all these stories come from?
Who knows? Storytelling, it seems, is a sort of yoga for the soul. The more you practice, the more you loosen up.
As I thought about this today, when an afternoon outing produced more potential stories than I could write in a week, I came up with a Grand Theory of Storytelling.
My Grand Theory of Storytelling goes something like this:
Being a Storyteller involves intuition, openness, Zen-mind, and an instinct for what Joan Didion calls “shimmer.”
“When I talk about pictures in my mind I am talking, quite specifically, about images that shimmer around the edges. Certain images do shimmer for me. Look hard enough, and you can’t miss the shimmer. You just lie low and let them develop. You stay quiet.”
What I am finding is that the more stories I write, the more stories I see “shimmering” around me, embedded in both inner and outer landscapes.
My Grand Theory of Storytelling states that stories act like ‘strange attractors’ in physics: Stories attract more stories. I do not have a clue why this happens, but it does. Stories like stories. They are gregarious. They like to hang out with their friends. They gossip. They weep and tell you their troubles. They play. They go on adventures. They like to keep you awake at night: "Write me! Write me!"
Today I could have written about an amazing encounter with an artist who has done a huge American flag out of skateboards. Whoa! Story there, for sure. (Stay tuned!)
I could have written about the wedding preparations next door, where the woods are twinkling with little lights that evoke a host of summer memories filled with thunderstorms and fireflies, honeysuckle and innocence, midsummer dream evenings by the lake, stolen kisses.
I could have written about initiating a major clean up in my home, which involves an archeological expedition of sorts, going layer by layer through forgotten projects, outgrown lives, forgotten friends, old photographs, each with a story, a story waiting to be told.
I could have written about looking for "Expiration" dates on a variety of food products, that got me thinking about how important it is to know when something has "Expired": A job, a relationship, a way of being. Things do expire, and we need to accept that and be ready to move on to fresh chapters in our lives. Lots of stories here, for sure!
I could have written about how it seems that when I have a clear intention, suddenly everything appears to converge and support the accomplishment of that intention. Why does this happen? What is the magic at work? Story here, for sure.
And so it goes.
I am trying on a new identity, a new persona to add to my collection of improbable identities, and I have Cowbird, and you, yes YOU to thank for it.
When someone asks me ‘What I do,’ a question I have always dreaded, and never know how to answer, I just smile and say:
“I’m a Storyteller. Let me give you a link to my collection of stories!" (Note to Self: Have cards printed with Cowbird Author Page link. "Storyteller.")
My Grand Theory of Storytelling holds that the secret, if there is one, can be simply stated:
Recognize the things that hold your attention, and then apply all your attention to those things.
What could be easier!
Now, go do the write thing!
Tell a Story!
(Photograph of Storyteller, Poet and Multi-Media Artist Karima Hoisan at a Poetry Reading in the Costa Rica sim, in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life)
Visit Karima's Blog, Digital Rabbit Hole, at http://karimahoisan.wordpress.com/