Thursday, February 25, 2010

Storytelling

It was a good day for me when I realized that writing non-fiction was a substantially different thing from writing fiction because it meant that I could write. I have never, ever, in my whole life come up with a fictional story. It can take me a week to craft a decent lie, one that my brother could knock off without effort, and chances are about 50/50 that I'll be able to pull it off. My mom once enrolled me in a creative writing course because she likes my writing which I took because I was young enough to confuse "creative writing" with "calligraphy", which was the summer course I wanted to take. I was both disappointed and driven to deliberate plagiarization because I never did come up with a story to write for the final project so I took the most obscure but kind of generic story I could find on the hall shelf and copied that. To this day I don't feel guilty and it remains the only assignment I ever copied. And as an adult, I now know that if I can't create fictional stories I can do a reasonable job writing anything I believe to be the truth. Hence the blog.

Still, every time I hear educators say "we'd like to have a program where kids come in and write their own stories and put on plays and progress at their own rate and find their own interests" rather than doing standard classroom stuff, I cringe and hope like hell they screen kids for this skill before throwing them in the deep end. The reason I was a great student was because I was given structure and a program that was driven forward externally and exposed to things I never would have thought to look into. As for plays? Fuggeddaboudit. The only time my barbies did anything beyond getting dressed and a hairdo, it was because I was playing with someone else who could craft a story or a scenario that I could follow. I even had one friend who would record soap operas on cassette tapes. I could barely be trusted to do the commercial breaks and even then she'd have to invent the product. I could just never understand where these stories came from because they don't come from me.

So imagine my surprise when I find myself telling stories! I've done hired me an organizer to come over and help me get rid of stuff and sort/store what's left in a more workable manner, and do all the stuff that has to get done but that I don't do. Since she's started coming over, we've completely revamped my non-fiction shelf, gotten all the kitchen items into the kitchen by rearranging where I kept stuff and putting in drawer dividers and whatnot, cleared out a lot of stuff from my giant bathroom closet area, and cleaned off the patio of all the items that got put there because they didn't have anywhere else to go. There's still a lot of work to be done, but I've plain thrown away about 5 large hefty bags of trash and donated a roughly equal amount of stuff that I don't love or use anymore.

Aside from all the decision making involved, which wears me out, it can be really daunting to get rid of things that have a history because one reason people like me keep so many things is because these things remind us of something; they remind us of a story. I find that if I can tell the story of my thing to my organizer, I have an easier time letting go of it. So among all the other functions she performs, she's also my audience when I find myself telling story after story about all these things I used to love and feel a little bad about not loving so much anymore. And things I didn't think I could give up, I'm able to give up once their story is told.

2 comments:

Junior and Orion said...

Hmmmmmmmm......an oragnizer as an audience. Meowm thinks she needs this too! She keeps "things' and boy are the "things" piling up!

S said...

Congrats on finally finding the key (or at least a key) to letting stuff go!