10 August 98
What is at the core of this dissatisfaction? Nothing
seems to help. Not music, nor books, nor sitting on the back porch
watching the day…
I went into the dining room and got my Storyteller's License and brought it in here where I can see it. I had almost forgotten I had it. It reads thus:
This license is issued to
The Storyteller's Creed
I believe that
Appended to the bottom is my signature. I am a licensed Storyteller.
It was author Robert Fulghum who invented both license and creed. And, since it was his contention that a Storyteller is anyone who tells a Story, I didn't think he'd mind if I took it upon myself to issue licenses to some Storytellers I knew who were in need of encouragement-- myself included. So I designed the license, printed them up and gave them to "my" writers, the members of The Playwrights Circle. Some of them were experienced playwrights who had had many productions mounted and who had been finalists in prestigious competitions; others were struggling through the first drafts of their first plays. All, without exception, were-- are demonstrably worthy of the appelation Storyteller.
I am a Storyteller. And I realized this evening as I walked home from Ma's, miserable in my dissatisfaction with myself, that the problem is that I have been fighting the telling of a particular story-- I've been repressing my need to tell a story. And that is what's making me miserable.
Why am I so determined not to tell this story? Because… well, because it has no value-- there's no market for it-- because it would be a waste of my professional time. That's what I've been telling myself. But the truth is this: I am afraid. I'm afraid because I love the story so much, love the characters so much, that I'll never be able to do it or them justice. And screwing it up will break my heart.
No wonder I feel so bad. I haven't been listening to my heart-- and I've been lying to myself into the bargain. Because I'm afraid.
The Tao says, "There is no greater illusion than fear." Rudyard Kipling said, "The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave man only one."
Annie Dillard wrote in The Writing Life, "One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes." She could have been writing about love, too…
And Jimmy Buffet wrote "I'd rather die while I'm living than live while I'm dead." (Growing Older But Not Up, from Coconut Telegraph.)
Enough, already! I get the point. I'll write the story. What's a broken heart, when all's said and done? Nothing to be afraid of. Heaven knows I've had enough of 'em and they've never proved fatal, not fatal fatal-- I hate this.
But I do feel better now. I hope I don't turn chicken, but... this one is going to hurt like the very beejeezus. Oh, hell-- and as for you, Rudyard-- Mister "Writing's a Piece of Cake"-- if you have nothing better to do than stand around looking smug, you can park it over here and lend moral support while I rough out this first draft...
See Meditation 2
for notes on the art of storytelling.
The Madwoman's Journal Index of Entries.