It has occurred to me in the past few months that there can be something about telling a story that comes from outside the storyteller’s imagination or experience. Karla used to tell some wonderful stories to our daughter Hilary when she was a little kid. Hilary would snuggle up on the bed next to Mom and wait for tonight’s story. Although we had read her many stories from books, eventually you run out of books, and necessity being the mother of invention, you invent stories. I always enjoyed listening in on the tales Karla spun because they were just so darned good. Imaginative, exciting, and thoroughly enjoyable, Hilary loved them and could hardly wait for the next one.
I asked Karla what the magic was that made her stories so entertaining. Her answer was that she was simply setting the stage and introducing the characters. Then the characters took over and created the stories. Her role was being the narrator. That implies that she was not the creator in the strictest sense, but rather “channeled” the characters after giving them permission to create. That was a hard concept for a literal-ist type person like me to grasp.
Lately I have found that Karla’s method of creating stories works for me, too. Sometimes I start writing down an idea then expanding on it without any clue as to where it is leading. I recently wrote a short blog entry called Dangerous in which I started with the theme of a question I had asked Karla many times, jokingly, if something I was about to do “made me look dangerous.” I felt there might be something that could come from that premise. Sure enough, it happened.
In the setup, which really did occur, I told about trying on various pairs of eyeglass frames and asking if they made me look dangerous. Karla’s response in every case was “no.” I didn’t know where my story could lead but kept writing. Then the storytelling genie took over and came up with the pink eyeglass frames angle. That didn’t really happen, but it evolved that “dangerous” could be equated with “back away from me.” I thought that was funny, and used the idea, which by the way wasn’t really mine. It just came to me from that wonderful area where ideas poke their heads in from outside the story—a source that I have only recently found, but that Karla had been using for a long time.
Thanks, Kiddo. You’re right—let go and let the magic happen.