Becoming A Storyteller, Part 1

Every week my grandmother sent her husband, my grandfather to the library to xerox copies of letters she had carefully crafted in her perfect palmer script and decorated wit an unexpected mix of real photographs and clippings from magazines depicting idealized versions of the world she imagined inhabiting. The letters detailed all of the most beautiful nuances of her world: birds or guests or gardens or memories.

Occasionally she slipped in brief phrases or sentences that amounted to plot development, but mostly she crafted engaging, intriguing descriptions of the world-as-she-saw it. It was a North Woods world full of family, haunting loon calls, fields of wild flowers, garrulous aunts and uncles, long quiet hikes and endless golden sunsets.

Almost every year when we arrived at the cottage which she had meticulously prepared, we would find a letter all pre-planned for us to complete. She had pre-clipped art and photos of vacation icons and even jotted down a sample script we might follow. She had alerted our mother to bring the addresses of our best friends, and the envelopes were stamped and pre-addressed.

She taught me that story is about creating a world, honing a particular voice and being faithful to an audience.

No comments: