Telling Stories

PD is a good friend of mine, and he’s a great addition to any social event. Having witnessed an amazing international adventure or two, he always has a tale to tell in his inimitable and entertaining fashion. Because he’s such an engaging storyteller, I suggested that he should write short stories retelling his adventures.

One adventure that he likes to recount is the time a group of us were lost in the desert in the Sultanate of Oman. We were on our way to see the green turtles lay their eggs when we lost our bearings and didn’t know which way was toward the ocean. Out of nowhere came a white Toyota truck, emerging from the horizon of a sand drift. Frantically, we waved  down the driver, and in our best Arabic—a vocabulary of about seven pleasantries and salutations—we told him we were lost. A blank stare was his reply.

And here PD took the lead. Armed with only a stick, a smooth patch of sand, and his command of charades, he performed great theatre with representations of fish, turtles, ocean waves, and sand dunes. A spark of recognition entered the Toyota driver’s eye. He understood that we needed to find the ocean.

Not only did we regain the right path, but also we gained a great story and concluded our detour by shaking hands with the laughing Omani. His smile revealed only two teeth, which added to our amusement. And that was just the beginning of that three-day adventure.

The next time we were at a social gathering where PD captured the group’s attention with his storytelling, I ventured my suggestion once again. He was still not taking me seriously, so later I sent him an interview-style email to give him the opportunity to reminisce over the past 30-plus years of working overseas.

The stories he returned were not about the work he had done, but about people he had met, places he had been, and events he had experienced. At the end of his reminiscence, he closed the email with the claim that he would love to write his stories but he was afraid. He lacked confidence about his writing and his spelling, so no matter whether he could write or not, it would just have to wait.

I’m not sure what he’s waiting for. I told him that good writers know they need an editor whose job it is to help out with the spelling and the grammar and the tightening of the prose. He managed to communicate in the desert, and I told him that’s the goal. “Put pen to paper and write,” I said.

Are your fears holding you back? Are your doubts and lack of confidence keeping your pen dry? Free yourself. Express yourself. Tell your stories. Worry about the clean-up later. The spelling and the grammar and the word choice and the clarity of the sentences—these are things that can come in time. The first task is to get the message out. Take the first task first—freely. Then come back and perfect.

I’d like to thank all our contributors for another bold and successful year of sharing support for the writing community and providing free resources to help us all develop our craft. As Rowdy Rhodes says in his article of reflection, “I wish you and yours all the best during the coming year, and thank you, one and all.” Happy birthday to IN!

It’s all here to support you in your writing goals. Don’t forget, the first task is the writing—however it comes out. And here’s a bonus: it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions.

First published by Inkwell Newswatch (IN)

© Julie Pierce and Julie’s Writing Portfolio, 2005-2011.

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