Archive for the ‘Story’ Category

The Power of Story

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

But it’s the stories that have always drawn me. When I was a child (as now) there were stories I found difficult, such as that of the workers in the vineyard, where those who had worked only an hour were paid as much as those who had worked all day in the heat of the sun. It wasn’t fair! Like most children, I wanted things to be fair, even though life had already taught me that unfairness abounds. I think many of us still feel like the child stamping and crying out, “It’s not fair!” Those who have worked all day long should certainly be paid more than those who came in at the last minute! But Jesus is constantly trying to make us understand that God’s ways are not our ways, and that God’s love is far less selective and far greater than ours. “Is thine eye evil because I am good?” God asks in Matthew’s Gospel after he has finished paying all the workers the same wage. When God blesses those we deem unworthy, does our jealousy make our eye become evil? Are we, like the elder brother, like Jonah, upset at God’s forgiveness? Daily I need a deep and penitent awareness of how much greater God’s love is than my own.

— Madeleine L’Engle, The Rock That Is Higher, p. 128, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase, p. 133

[Photo: Burnside Gardens, Virginia, April 22, 2016]

Story First

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

So it was a theological as well as a literary enterprise for me, but as a storyteller I had to make the story come first. I sat down and typed out “It was a dark and stormy night.” The theology is down deep. It’s not there unless you look for it. And that’s where I think it should be in stories. It should not hang below your skirt like a slip.

— Madeleine L’Engle, quoted in Madeleine L’Engle, Herself, compiled by Carole F. Chase

Women’s Stories Matter.

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Women’s stories matter, the stories we write, the stories we read – the big-deal winners of literary prizes, and Harlequin romances, and documentaries, and soap operas, and PBS investigations, and Lifetime movies of the week. Women’s stories matter. They tell us who we are, they give us places to explore our problems, to try on identities and imagine happy endings. They entertain us, they divert us, they comfort us when we’re lonely or alone. Women’s stories matter. And women matter, too.

— Jennifer Weiner, Hungry Heart, p. 4

Reckoning

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Men and women who rise strong are willing and able to reckon with their emotions. First, they recognize that they’re feeling something — a button has been pushed, they’re hooked, something is triggered, their emotions are off-kilter. Second, they get curious about what’s happening and how what they’re feeling is connected to their thoughts and behaviors. Engaging in this process is how we walk into our story.

— BrenĂ© Brown, Rising Strong, p. 40

Wired for Story

Monday, March 7th, 2016

We’re wired for story.

In a culture of scarcity and perfectionism, there’s a surprisingly simple reason we want to own, integrate, and share our stories of struggle. We do this because we feel the most alive when we’re connecting with others and being brave with our stories — it’s in our biology. The idea of storytelling has become ubiquitous. It’s a platform for everything from creative movements to marketing strategies. But the idea that we’re “wired for story” is more than a catchy phrase. Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has found that hearing a story — a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end — causes our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin. These chemicals trigger the uniquely human abilities to connect, empathize, and make meaning. Story is literally in our DNA.

— BrenĂ© Brown, Rising Strong, p.6

Telling our Stories Truthfully

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

When we tell our stories to others, we want them to sound effortless. We want to appear as if it all came easily to us — as if we simply picked the destination we wanted to reach or the goal we wanted to achieve, pursued it doggedly and unwaveringly, and eventually succeeded. But in real life it never happens like this. There are always false starts, detours, and course corrections, and more often than not the room we end up in is not the one we first envisioned. Maybe if we begin to tell our stories differently, if we start to talk about all the times our journey didn’t go as smoothly as expected, we can help others look past their preconceived notion that the road to the “perfect” room is without speed bumps and glitches.

— Sherre Hirsch, Thresholds, p. 154-155

When the Pattern Breaks

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Stories are about the dropped stitch. About what happens when the pattern breaks. Though there is a certain poetry in the rhythm of the everyday, it is most often a shift, a moment of not-always-so, that ends up being the story. Why is this moment different? What has changed? And why now? We would do well to ask ourselves these questions when we’re at work. This shift can be a massive one (here I am thinking of the dystopian novel in which the very rhythms of the universe are called into question: the sun no longer predictably rises in the east or sets in the west; a meteor is hurling toward earth; the oceans are rising), or it can be as subtle and internal as the Steven Millhauser story, “Getting Closer,” in which a nine-year-old boy on vacation with his family feels, for the first time, a searing, wordless awareness of time’s passage.

Why are we writing about this moment, and no other? And what can we do — stylistically, structurally, linguistically — to get inside it? How can we reveal the innards, the pulsing truth of this character who is — let’s face it — at some sort of juncture, because if he isn’t, why would the story be worth telling?

— Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, p. 136-137

Remembrance

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Only now am I grasping the importance of looking backward. Of remembrance. My father finally wrote out his memories for a reason. I took on a year of reading books for a reason. Because words are witness to life: they record what has happened, and they make it all real. Words create the stories that become history and become unforgettable. Even fiction portrays truth: good fiction is truth. Stories about lives remembered bring us backward while allowing us to move forward.

— Nina Sankovitch, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, p. 73

Stories

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.

— Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, p. 36

Stories

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

People’s stories are the most personal thing they have, and paying attention to those stories is just about the most important thing you can do for them.

— William Deresiewicz, A Jane Austen Education, p. 163