Friday, June 8, 2012

Tell me a story...

Wiped out down the stairs
I'll bet you there's a song in there
I'm not sure I'm prepared to write it down
-Barenaked Ladies

I'm a story teller. I've always been a story teller. I've talked about getting it from my dad. He would tell these stories that you didn't know were jokes until he got to the punch line. He just knew how to tell a story. So from him I got the bug. I want to tell stories and most of the time I want them to be funny. Sometimes they are sad as well and that's okay too, but usually I want there to be some funny in there even with the sad. But one of the things I've noticed with people who write or people who just like to tell stories, everything is a story. Or at least has the potential to be one. You see something or hear something and your imagination takes over and it's now a story. 

And for me at times it's even worse because I tell true stories about my life as well as make up stories about pretend people's lives. So at any point in time something that is happening has the potential to be a story. I've gotten in trouble a few times with writing a fiction piece that has a piece of truth in it. The person who inspired a catchphrase or a quirk in the character recognizes that piece of themselves then thinks..."Hey! Is the rest of this really about me??" Most often, it's not. It's just that I thought the way you refuse to hold bananas by the stem is quirky and funny and needed to be in a story. The rest of that person is all from my head. I do not honestly believe that your banana quirk means you are a serial killer.  Sheesh....

But sometimes you can't tell the story. Even if it would be a really good one. You either can't tell it because it's not your story to tell. You have heard it from someone else, it's their life not yours. Or it's too raw. The whole "we will look back on this and laugh" situation. Sometimes it's just not time to laugh yet. I was working on a fictional piece recently for a writing contest. It was fiction based on a real life incident. One that I knew while it was happening I would write about one day. And it was good. I know it seems weird to say that about your own writing but you just know sometimes when you are writing something that it's really really good. Beyond your usual level. And this was going in that direction. Until I stopped and realized that it was too real. It wasn't a fictionalized event. It was a true story. And it was too soon to tell it. How did I know? Because I couldn't write the ending. I knew how I wanted the story to end, but that's not how it ended in real life and I couldn't get the fiction to work. I had written too much of the truth. So it's been tucked away in my book notes folder and will stay there for a few more years and then I will take it back out and change some things into a different story. About other people. Not about me. And I hope it will still be just as good.

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