Stories are everything.
As January winds down, I find myself growing deeply sentimental about this place, and also too about writing, and about telling stories. And so when I came upon this quote today over at Longreads — a site which, after Will Truman, is my very favorite aggregator on the Internet — I had to put it up here in OTC.
The quote is from Jacqui Banaszynski and her recently published Telling True Stories: A Nonfictions Writers’ Guide from the Neiman Foundation at Harvard University. I’ve already ordered a copy for myself, based on just this quote. (Though I suppose Longread’s praise of it didn’t hurt.) I pass the quote on to everyone here, because I am a firm believer that its wisdom applies to writers and non-writers alike.
And with that, I will leave Banaszynski’s words to speak for themselves.
They say language makes us human. That notion is being challenged as we discover that apes have language. Whales have language. I welcome them into our fold. I’m not threatened by them, quite frankly, because I think that stories make us human. Only by telling them do we stay so.
Stories are our prayers. Write and edit them with due reverence, even when the stories themselves are irreverent.
Stories are parables. Write and edit and tell yours with meaning, so each tale stands in for a larger message, each story a guidepost on our collective journey.
Stories are history. Write and edit and tell yours with accuracy and understanding and context and with unwavering devotion to the truth.
Stories are music. Write and edit and tell yours with pace and rhythm and flow. Throw in the dips and twirls that make them exciting, but stay true to the core beat. Readers hear stories with their inner ear.
Stories are our soul. Write and edit and tell yours with your whole selves. Tell them as if they are all that matters. It matters that you do it as if that’s all there is.