A lot of people reference storytelling in romanticized terms, which I find funny, because most of my experiences with storytelling aren’t all that romantic. Rather, they tend to be rife with stresses and apprehensions, slowed and sucked in by the beautiful mud of complex details, and permeated with little spiders of emotion that creep into your heart, mind, and soul, and change all of them in weird and unexpected ways.
Maybe it’s bad boundaries; that I can’t hear and tell someone’s story without allowing some of that story to get in through my skin and into my bones.
Maybe it’s caring too much; that once I start I have to make sure it’s as pure of a representation of the story as I can deliver.
Maybe it’s loving too much; getting too mixed up in the lovely mess of story crafting with all its neat nuts and bolts and writerly tools that demand real time, practice, and effort.
Whatever it is, I don’t think people should romanticize storytelling. I’s not a romantic thing, even if it’s a story of romance. Because even romances have struggles, tensions, conflicts, rises, falls, resolutions, and triumphs. And if they don’t, they’re probably not a romance story.
Anyway, I love storytelling as much as the next person. But I also think it’s important to caution people who think the storytelling craft is something free from struggle, stress, challenge, or effort. Because it’s not free of any of things. It involves all of those things and more. And that’s why it’s beautiful and transformative and worth doing.
The best stories put stones in our shoes that steal our attention, the best stories mess us up a bit, blow our hair back a little bit, challenge us a bit, inspire us a bit, break us a bit, and hopefully, change they way we see and exist in the world once the final word is read or heard.