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On Story Telling


Dear Jim,

When I was little, like quite little, 7 or 8 maybe, I used to make up stories for Mika while we rode in the car.

They were rubbish stories, non-sensical, rambling masterpieces that only really entertained us, and would not have made sense to anyone else.

Then I wrote stories my entertainment as I grew older.

Small projects that I would set myself and publish with bright covers and illustrations.

Or gifts for family members that held more value in effort than content.

And then eventually, I started writing in secret.

Well, not secret as such, but not for anyone to see.

Epic sagas and grand novels that would no doubt change the world, as long as I could get pen to paper fast enough.

Complex plots and parallel stories that ran alongside one another, only to end in a massive (and predictable) reveal.

Then I wrote moody, poetic pieces, minimalistic fragments, heavy with symbolism and middle-class angst.

I desperately tried to write beauty, zen, purity.

Philosophy overwhelmed me.

Rimbaud was God.

And then I stopped.

I’m not sure why.

But I really stopped writing stories.

The closest I got to writing stories again, was a brief foray into creating picture books for adults.

Which was really more about the illustrations.

I think perhaps I was scared of not being a “real writer.”

Perhaps because I had become too focused on the writing, rather than the story telling.

Now, being a story teller - that’s much less intimidating.

In fact, telling stories of any kind is one of my favourite past times.

Except for one problem.

I’ve kind of forgotten how to do it.

I used to have so many stories in my head, I didn’t have time to write them all down.

Now, the only stories I feel like I have are recounts of true experiences.

But somehow here in the desert, with the local people, I am drawn back to stories.

It’s been a while, but I wonder if I can remember how to do it.

I’m reading a book at the moment called “The Women Who Run With Wolves”, and the writer says

“Stories are medicine. I have been taken with stories since I heard my first. They have such power, they do not require that do, be, act, anything - we only need to listen.

Here in the desert, when there is really nothing else but the dry earth and the stars, I think have enough space to come up with a story.

Perhaps I am ready to tell stories again.


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© Alisa Tanaka-King 2020