jusummerhayes

Storytelling

"In my experience people are great fans of stories. As much teaching as I have done in as many cities and settings, for as many crowds and countries, I see that most people want a story. Whatever good ideas you might have, however elegant your theories, whatever prestige you can conjure with your overheads and your Power Points, none of these can touch a story worth telling and worth hearing. None of them will have the arc of necessity about them, none will carry that mystery of recognition that jumps up at the telling of the story worth hearing, none of them will be remembered months, years, or lives later and told in trying times. Stories have all this power, and more." — Stephen Jenkinson, Die Wise, A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul

I am writing this post later today.

Normally, I’d write it directly into Livejournal but, instead, I’m using Google Docs and have saved it to a folder marked “Blogs 2020”. I have this feeling that I may want to revisit the topic and it will be easier to find it here than by using a series of tags in Livejournal.

To get the ambience right, I’m playing a collection of classical songs from the Sad Classical playlist on Spotify; I’m drinking black coffee in a yellow and white striped Cornishware mug; and the house is very quiet. It’s unlikely to get much better than this, and I’m praying that I’m not interrupted by the need to respond to another legal crisis.

Just to be clear, it’s not that I’m trying to break my early-morning habit — of the blog that is — but this morning, for the first time in a long while, I had an overwhelming sense that I needed more space and time to write my blog. The trouble is, even though I start writing at 5.30 am, I still only give myself, at most, an hour to write and edit the blog and then share it on Twitter and Facebook. That often means my writing is rushed, sometimes inarticulate and fails to answer the acid test of any piece of writing; namely, What is this about?

But actually, having recently immersed myself in the writing of Ian McKewan, I realise how I’ve missed a vital connection with anyone reading my material. And that’s the ability to write a compelling story. You know, a narrative with juice that has you hooked from the get-go. I’m sure one of the reasons is that I simply haven’t read enough fiction and have been stuck reading a plethora of dry management and self-help books. Or it could be that I’m just not a very good writer. 

Perhaps I’m over-egging things — a lot of people have been kind enough to say how much they enjoy my writing — but I know it’s not my best work. In fact, I think it quite tame, or even, dare I say it, written more for my amusement than anything else. Remember too that, save for a slight hint at the end of each blog post to contribute to the costs of maintaining my site, I’m not selling anything. No tips, tricks or 7 steps. And, as I’ve said before, that means I’ve got the licence and freedom to write how and about what pleases and nourishes my soul and not to sell you on another system to (as an example) turn your life around!

To be a good storyteller, particularly or more especially in the corporate world (assuming that’s where I’m still focused), strikes me as something that few people master. Think about it. The language is the same, and the same people are repeatedly quoted. It’s the line of least writing resistance. I could be wrong but I don’t think so. Perhaps it’s me, but I’m much more interested in the story that’s not being told.

If I think about one of my key points of writing inflexion, it’s the story of my sudden awakening based on a day in March 2010 when I was admitted to hospital with a subarachnoid haemorrhage (SH). So what? What relevancy does it have to anything in the material world? Yes, I was lucky and I’ll be forever grateful for the care and love I received but not everyone is disposed to or does awaken to life anew based on a near-death experience. To take up my point about the untold story, what is it that might have some juice associated with my SH? The impact on my family? The estrangement that still exists with my parents? Or, all the other people who weren’t so lucky on my day of admission? Or, should I leave it alone, and look elsewhere for inspiration?

Do you see what I mean?

Perhaps I’m making too much of things. In simple terms, I need to improve my writing and think of it more like a story and ditch the corporate speak/slogans. And I feel that I need to change things double quick, as, otherwise, I’ve a sense that I may give up the whole blogging thing. I’m serious. There’s only so many times you can say the same thing.

It might be that I’ve too much time on my hands. I’m certain that if I was more engaged with my paid work that I’d be happy to publish a simple little blog but the problem for me is that I gave up on the legal profession in August 2010 and even if I was busier, I don’t think that would militate against me sharing my message — and a much improved one at that. There’s part of me that wonders how my writing might be influenced if I moved in a new and complete different work circle? Something to ponder, eh. 

For now, I think that’s probably enough. If my voice sounds a little pleading, a little desperate, then I make apologies. If I can’t change things then I might as well write one post with all the details of my ‘story’ and leave it at that rather than write ad nauseum about the same bloody thing.

Normal service will resume tomorrow. I promise to try and weave a stronger narrative with more vitality and bit more humour.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Take care.

Blessings, Ju 🙏


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