As I've said before, I love capturing the swirl of emotion, creativity and sense of community that comes from attending our Storycatchers Live events. There's something that happens individually and collectively when we show up in these story spaces, both intimate and universal that takes us places with these 100 other people that we otherwise might not have gone. I'm so grateful when people share what they've been mulling over since they left our seats, and these thoughts and explorations by David Gold are no exception.
Why: Notes and Observations
Last night, I heard talented storytellers. I sat spellbound by their craft; what to include and leave out, in significant details; how to pace their plots; when to joke, pause, shock, or grip our hearts and squeeze until warm tears trickled, then flowed; and how to explore a central question, which I’ve learned is a --if not THE-- key to any act of writing or storytelling.
Identifying the question that a story, poem, or essay of mine explores is difficult. I have a tendency to take something amusing or absurd, and run away with it for the sake of entertaining, of telling a story that might be gripping or funny with lots of pretty language, without considering why the story is significant. There’s some reason I’m sharing whatever I share, but the reason is usually something I can’t pinpoint. But, I can find the question in what I heard last night:
Regarding toilet-seat factories: What is the value of a line of work?
Regarding the act of singing: How do questions about art, grief, and legacy relate to music and the act of singing?
Regarding the cherry tree season in Japan: How does one nation, let alone dozens, overcome the death and destruction of war?
Regarding children’s birthday parties: Is there a tangible method of measuring success as a mother?
Regarding the rituals of drug addiction: At which point do I “gotta wake up?”
Right now, I’m struggling to assemble a chapbook of brief stories and essays, currently trying to identify a difficult question underlying each one. (I swear that wasn't a plug.) The stories—as usual—began as entertainment, but I still didn’t know why; this scared me. What did my stories matter? What made them matter? Why am I so insistent on revisiting things that happened to me, and how do I make these things significant? What's the point of writing about a recorder recital I gave at age eighteen, or an encounter with French-singer Serge Gainsbourg's grave, or a playing of a vinyl record collection of hymnals and playing with its speed? I ran into Jordan, one of last night’s tellers, a couple weeks back; freaking out over these questions of theme and exploration but listing incidents to write about, he cut through my BS and said “Sounds like there are things you don’t want to write about.”
Watching and listening to everyone at Storycatchers, and taking inventory of what each story accomplished in exploration of a question, helps me become a better writer, and last night’s event forced me to look at my writing extra critically while I revise today. I'm actively asking myself, about each essay, "What am I dancing around, and why won't I allow myself the vulnerability to make it clear?"
I want to thank every teller for their bravery, their vulnerability, their inspiration, and their keen ability to make me care about ninja-adventure birthday parties and toilet seat assembly.
Thank you, David for sharing what he took away with him and to Katie Chicquette Adams for sharing this below picture of teller Jordan Brown quite literally writing his fellow tellers' stories on his skin.