The Daily Prompt today suggests a do-over of a past post. My first thought was – aha! I should be able to whip that out quickly. Not so. I chose a post I had done months ago, soon after I started blogging. I found it needed extensive editing. In earlier blogging days, I didn’t know how or when to hyperlink. Now I do. I added more photos this time around, a strategy that helps lead the reader through the text.
All in all, I’m quite pleased with the reworked version. I give you – Let the Story Go.
I often work with CBC radio podcasts on my laptop for background noise. Now and then something catches my attention. The other day I jotted down a snippet of words on the edge of a scrap of paper. No matter what you’re trying to create – if you’re not scared you’re not really doing it.
These two phrases capture one of the bitter pills a writer must swallow – the risk of letting our stories (translation – our babies) go. We must send our creations into the world where people will judge, evaluate, and horrors of all horrors, possibly not understand. That is quite the frightening prospect. I find myself screaming inside – not my problem child – as I refer to Disappearing in Plain Sight.
There is no way around this dilemma. If I want my work to have meaning, other people must see it. French philosopher Paul Ricoeur wrote extensively about hermeneutics – the art of interpreting written text. He tells us that the act of fixing anything in text is the beginning of that text’s journey away from the meanings the original author may have intended. The text is freed from the creator, as well as the circumstances in which it was created. It enters the wide world of interpretation.
I realize that what Ricoeur describes will happen to me with every word I write. I cringe and shy away from ever allowing my text to go free. But this act of fixing a story in the written form is not just a hobby. It is something that has become an imperative. There is just this story, and it must be told.
Human beings have a driving need to tell and understand stories as a way of making sense of the world. Telling a story lets us pull the threads of our life backward in contemplation and then forward as we create new ways of being. Richard Kearney (2002) writes that telling stories is as basic to human beings as eating. In fact, it may be more so. Food makes us live; stories are what makes our life worth living. And the remarkable thing about all of this is that each story needs to be told. Each becomes a bell echoing out and beyond the storyteller to change every person that hears. This even includes those who may not like the story. They too are changed in some way.
I know I must let the story go. The story must move beyond me. Interpretation is the work of the reader, not the writer. I do all that I can to tell a well-crafted story. Then I sit back and allow the reader to choose the angle of insight.
Kearney, Richard. (2002). On Stories. NY: Routledge
Kearney, Richard. (2007). Paul Ricoeur and the hermeneutics of interpretation. Research in phenomenology, 37. 147-159.
(The image at the top of this post is of the graveyard in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan where my great-grandparents are buried.)