To Be a Storyteller

The #reverb10 final prompt from Molly O’Neill asked “What is your core story?”

Being a huge fan of The Moth, and Eddie Izzard, and loving to hear people rattle off stories about their hilarious trip here and there —  and being a writer naturally — I am perplexed and in awe of storytellers.

I can WRITE something. I can BLAH BLAH BLAH about whatever and it usually ends with me saying “So then it was so funny because I saw the cow and it ATE the shoe but it wasn’t mine but I guess you had to be there…hehheh”

But I am not sure I would yet call myself a Storyteller.

So this prompt, when it hit my inbox, stopped me in my tracks. First yah gotta KNOW the story, then ya gotta TELL the story. And I am wondering which part of that I fear so much that I am dancing around it right now.

Well, we’ll see. I am just going to try it out and see what come out. I have NO IDEA where this is going to go.

Here goes.

Enough is Enough

by me.

Once Upon a Time…

lived a young girl named Elizabeth who came from a big loud fun family. All Elizabeth ever wanted was to be NOTICED.

When she was little, Elizabeth acted out dramas at the dinner table over the prospect of eating a piece of lettuce. The drama always ended with a loud bedroom door bang! The family LAUGHED at her, but she couldn’t hear it over her mournful wails.

When she was older, realizing that nothing she did at home would get her what she desired, she put on her best “DRAMA QUEEN!” sash — awarded to her by her mother — and went to the local Junior Theatre productions in search of what she needed.

Like most girls, Elizabeth wanted to be the star, the PRINCESS in the dramas, but she never got those parts. She always ended up playing the scullery maid, the one-liner queen, the silly eagle, the dancing donkey. Oh my! How would she EVER get noticed dressed as Sam the Eagle under this enormous beak?

In high school, Elizabeth sang in the choir (MEZZO-soprano). She got a part in “Annie” (as a homeless Hooverville-ite) and was made CO-editor of the school newspaper. It was the same song and dance. With everything Elizabeth did, she felt proud at first, but when she looked around, no one seemed to notice. No one cared. She would never be the best.

Years passed and the girl grew up and went out in the world. She still wanted people to notice her. So after college, she took a job she didn’t really like at ALL. But EVERYONE thought the job was very important. Even her brother LOVED to tell his friends that his little sister was a “TELEVISION DIRECTOR!!” She worked the late hours gracelessly, shouting at her colleagues in her in misery. Exhausted, she realized that STILL no one was paying any attention. No matter how loud she got.

So the girl drove around in her car and cried and cried. And after looking back at all her desires and her so-called failures, she decided:

Enough is enough.

And she told the moon-faced Chinese executive producer that she quit.

He hardly noticed when she left.

Then girl wanted to write, so she took up freelance work.

The girl preferred to be of service, so she started waiting tables.

The girl liked school, so she studied and completed a Master’s.

The girl wanted her own space, so she bought her own house.

Her life wasn’t perfect and she was still unhappy sometimes and wanted people to notice her. But instead of looking out, she started to look in. The girl used writing like a mirror and it helped. SHE noticed, after all.

She started to slow down sometimes. To sit and do yoga. She started to listen to friends who cared about her and believe them when they said: “you are fine the way you are.” She also started to listen to herself.

The girl was done playing the field, but was lonely. So she went out looking and brought home the perfect husband.

And one day, she and the husband decided they’d grown tired of their workaday life. They put everything on the lawn and sold it. And moved with nothing but a couple chairs and their favorite pants to London.

The girl and her husband were sad they couldn’t make their own family, so one day they said: “Let’s make a family anyway.” And they found a way to bring that family home.

The girl still wishes people would notice her now and then. Now and then she still tunes her singing voice and busks for a compliment when she feels the need.

But more often now she is pretty sure that enough is enough.

*****

This post is one of my favorites ever and is part of my For Writers, By Writers” series.

What do you think? Who or what would you like to hear from? Let me know!

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  5 comments for “To Be a Storyteller

  1. January 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    One thing that caught my attention where you are concerned is your writing. You take a typical tale that many people know personally and make it your own. Serious and playful at the same time. The tenor is set with the ‘by me’ and I was captivated by your story and your telling.

    Your friends are right. You are just fine the way you are. Keep writing. You’re quite good at it.

  2. January 5, 2011 at 6:09 am

    I loved your thoughts on storytelling. I just watched a TED talk during which the speaker reflects on the connotations of being a storyteller. It made me laugh, and I thought I would pass it on:

    http://on.ted.com/8oTb

    Hope you continue writing and sharing your stories because I enjoy reading them!

  3. Colin
    January 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Loved the story and I can’t wait to read the next chapter.

  4. January 5, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    You’re noticed. Boy are you ever noticed. Well, well done.

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