19 April 2017: Storytelling is a powerful art form

When one is described as living a “storied life,” it suggests a life filled with adventures, feats, or accomplishments that transcend normal human experience. We tend to reserve that accolade for famous people, those who make the headlines for one reason or another. Unfortunately, that leaves out the rest of humanity.

Testimonials of recently passed locals, women and men who lived full and impactful lives, grace the pages of the Courant. When reading them, it’s wondrous to discover how rich each life was. The truth is, if every person took an honest look at his/her life, he/she would realize he/she too has lived a storied, extraordinary life.

We can get into semantics by quibbling over over-using storied and extraordinary. Certainly, there is substance to the argument that extra implies a relative, comparative standard beyond the ordinary. Every life, though, goes beyond the experience of being alive and becomes storied, a tale that should be told.

The mass of modern people live, as Henry David Thoreau suggests, “lives of quiet desperation.” Hyper-busy days, crazily filled with duty, obligation, and deadlines. It lies at the root of hyper-tension that leads to deeper physiological traumas and diseases.  But within those lives are powerful stories, unique to individuals, full of exploits and tales of wonderment, worthy of space in the annals of human history.

Everybody tells stories. Telling about how your workday went, of the idiot who cut you off while driving, or of the teenager who helped a struggling senior are examples of storytelling. When recounting such events, some provide ample details and are sticklers for facts; others embellish.

All, though, are fraught with interpretation. Your description of the driver who created mayhem might be substantially different from another’s. That is true about your day at work. Your co-workers and boss, who were actors in the drama, have their points of view.

We are the only sentient beings that tell stories or, for that matter, pay attention to design and enhance our lives through art. The female peacock might be susceptible to falling for the male with the most brilliant plumage, but it is hard to imagine her carrying one of his feathers back to decorate her nest after the first date and hang it next to others from her previous suitors.

Why do we, like people in cultures from time immemorial, from the cave art on, tell stories? Why do we read or listen to stories?

One is for the same reasons that we paint rooms bright or subdued colors, add more spice to the chili, wear a plain or roguish style of clothing, pursue a hobby or passion, and listen to certain genres of music. They not only enrich our lives, but they also tell the world who we are.

Another is validation. Storytelling gives our lives meaning. One might want understanding and empathy, someone to acknowledge or affirm his/her feelings. Another likes to brag, beat his chests, boast about how great he is. The reasons are numerous as the people telling them.

Oral is the universal form of storytelling. We all tell them. Writing, which comes in two forms, is the other. Prose—fiction: contemporary, science fiction, historical fiction, romance, fantasy; and non-fiction: memoir, biography, informative (e.g., scientific, religious, history)—and poetry.

Writing and publishing one’s work is an experience like no other because our experiences, unique to our own circumstances, are like no other. Putting our work in the public realm for all to scrutinize and judge can be daunting. But, it is also empowering. I can attest firsthand because of writing and publishing my novel, Sisyphus Wins.

Among my unexpected enjoyments have been numerous conversations with other Clear Creekers about their writing. Those have led to the development of a June 3rd writing event at the Georgetown Heritage Center in partnership with the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

Please join Anne Marie Cannon, GHC Manager Paul Hintgen, and me on KYGT-FM on Saturday, April 22, at 3:00 when we will talk about The Road More Traveled: Independent Publishing Workshop for Aspiring Authors and Curious Readers.

If you cannot listen at that time, we will rebroadcast it on April 24th at 3:00, and I will post it on my website: jerryfabyanic.com. Then sign up at http://www.georgetowntrust.org/.

Power of story. Learn more.

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