Finding Zen from the voices in my head

I learned something about myself as far as storytelling is concerned. I’m really not the natural I thought I might be at this. Being an outgoing person is one thing. Getting up on stage in front of a crowd of complete strangers and producing a coherent story with a beginning, middle and end? It’s a completely ‘nother thing.

My experiences to this point are very much in keeping with my novice rank. I’ve forgotten my place in a story. I’ve left out really good lines. I’ve rambled at times. I cut a story short simply because my nerves got the best of me. Hell, I’m hesitant to take the mic out of its stand for fear I’ll drop it. The feedback I have received has been nothing short of amazing, and I love it when someone comes up to me and hits me with a line I used, it’s great stuff. Still, I grade myself much more critically than these peeps, probably because I know my reach better than they do.

The transition from writing something down to talking something out has necessarily taken on a greater degree of emphasis for me, and in the process has given me a window into my writing. It’s an interesting, and wholly unique, vantage point.

Who knew? I discovered what makes me tick as a writer by involving myself in a creative outlet where I don’t write down a blessed thing. I haven’t written down a blessed thing in what has to be a month’s time now, and yet I’ve been writing every single day. As a person who doesn’t abide by convention, this turns me on.

Storytelling requires a great deal of practice. It also means that I spend a ton of time explaining to people why it is that I’m talking to myself more often than usual.

The idiom that “practice makes perfect” can easily be misunderstood as being emblematic of a pristine finished product when really, there’s no such thing. Practice is growth, and well, growth is scraped knees. It ascribes to the tenets of Zen: The action is your landscape, the steps taken your true goal. Basically, if you’re looking for the way? You’re there.

I had kinda taken it for granted that my ability to write was borne out of some mystical design to which I had no control. And while I do believe there is validity to the “God given” ability to plant words that grow into stories, this mindset left me wanting. A gift is a living, breathing thing. Which means to say, it requires maintenance. And so it was that I learned this rather obvious fact whilst talking out stories.

Storytelling is the ability to borrow the listener’s mind and furnish it with plush scenarios that sate their hunger. You don’t have to be crystalline in your descriptions, but you do have to be bold and decisive. It’s all right there, in that moment. Whereas writing requires an ambitious decree whose evidence takes on a patina-like quality, story telling is akin to prospecting for quicksilver.

My favorite storytellers live and die in the telling of their tale. The connection is so visceral because the potion they’re serving up is a fiery passion whose immediacy hits you upside the head and takes you to wherever it is they’re going. My favorite writers possess an innate ability to connect divinity to that which is tangible. They weave the temporal into a devoutly stitched piece of work whose union is majestic.

I love both sides of this equation.

I’m not there, on either count; not even close. I’m still stepping and plying and learning my way along. Brokering a peace with the ebbs of my writing chops and forging an alliance with the flow of my story telling. I’m in love with how perfectly imperfect the whole process truly is. Honestly, it makes me feel like a kid on the first day of school.

I can deal with that.

32 thoughts on “Finding Zen from the voices in my head

  1. I think that happens to all storytellers while on “stage.” In my case telling some story already told many times. You alluded to a real stage. Are you doing TedTalks or stand-up?
    Who are your favorite writers?

    • I was gifted Sheryl Sandberg’s “Option B” because I am an absolute fool for the woman. She is such a strong, positive voice. She doesn’t speak to a crowd of strangers when she tells a story, she hugs them. Before that, I was deep into Koontz because the man has such a descriptive flair. I hunger for that kind of thing. I’m finding the inspiration in those places, currently. 🙂

  2. man….
    this is my bucket (NO! I DON’T HAVE A BUCKET!) list stuff…
    I have ben going with a friend to MOTH shows. Every time she throws her name in the hat, every time I come up with an excuse not to.
    One day…one day…
    please keep writing about this!

    • I will. And YOU will. I know you will. And then I want to read of your experience. It’s a thrill, believe me.

      I don’t have a bucket list either. lol.

      Peace and tossing your name in the hat . . .

  3. Dude. Are you on stage, and not sharing where or when? I think you are an awesome writer. I always look forward to your craftsmanship and the laughs and heartfelt flutters I get from reading your stuff and if you’re performing it … c’mon now. I need a ticket to that. It is a trip how we were both on the writer’s introspective flow this week. Duuuuuude. But whether you’re storytelling behind a mic or typing out words, I think what you have to say is always interesting. It is different kinds of creative flow, but I think you’re good at both, and I would think working in both avenues would make you am even better writer overall 🙂 Dude you’re like a double threat … like Ryan Gosling … Acting and singing. Keep it up my friend. You got fans pulling for you out here on the West Coast.

    • I have more to say on this comment, fo sho. But I am running late so I’ll just start with this. If you go to YouTube and look up Lancaster Story Slam, Marc Anthony. You should find me. If you don’t find it, I’ll send you the link!

      More later . . . .

      • Dude. That hot mess was great! I love the courage it took to get on stage and let that writer out from behind the page. High five with some Trader Joe’s chocolate for that one. I love that you did this and want to hear about it … when you have time of course. I love to hear the story behind the story. I’m excited for you and can’t wait to hear about Old School and Nightmares. 🙂

        • Yeah, the old school is SOOO broad, I’m having issues nailing down a particular story. I’ll figure something out. The nightmares one is a bit easier.

          I will share! Great idea Cali!

          Peace and Trader Joe’s chocolates

      • Ann was so nice! She loved the kids and was very cool to talk to. Haha! Maybe I’ll post that one some time. I found one of the pictures of her with the kids.

        Thanks Mary 🙂

    • It was a valuable life lesson, Mary. It allowed me to understand the old saying “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” on an intimate and accessible level. I was stung, but I was more thankful for the moments than stung. I came of age . . I think, inside those days.

      The story telling is going well, thank you! I have a few new ‘fans’ who are coming out next week . . . and I STILL don’t have a story! I need to disassemble the notes in my head!


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