How storytelling is like dream work, only easier

Personal story work reminds me a little of dream work, but easier.  Dreams are set in a coded language that can be hard to crack. 

But with stories, the code or reason we have chosen that story to tell, will, with sincere searching always be there for the finding. The story has lessons for us and either we know the lesson already and we want to share it (and deepen our connection to it), or we are not quite sure and it will be in the crafting and telling process that we discover why the story is calling us.

Stories that call to be told need time, thinking, patience, an audience and a desire to illuminate something of this human existence for the benefit of others (and ourselves).

Even a romping adventure of a story, an hilarious rolling in the aisles comedy story, or a tragic drama, needs, for it to impact us, make an impression, nourish our souls for longer than the time it takes to tell the story, it needs to give an insight into the human condition, an internal journey, as well as the external journey.

Even with the most ordinary external events, a story can still be amazing and memorable, if there is reflective and meaningful internal journeying about the lesson of the moment.

But a story that is a series of ‘.....and then .....   and then...    and then  …’  all on the external level, all possibly dramatic, adventurous and funny, is still, if we can’t get a sense of, feel into, the person who is experiencing it, just a series of events.   If we don't know what they are feeling and if they don’t make sense of the events from the distance of time in their own unique way, we are none the wiser about them or life, we will struggle to remember the story, and the teller will not have made meaning.

We tell about external events all the time just because they happened to us: it  is enough for us to share just the events with our friends and families; this is how we process and our listeners bear witness.  But for a storytelling, a time set aside for story, and for the creative process that creates a story out of the clay of life, there needs to be more. 

There needs to be crafting and purpose, reflection and meaning.

Them's fighting words I know.  And sometimes I think I am way too over the top about this aspect of story.  I mean, someone has a great adventure to tell, they tell it really well with lots of drama, it is funny and exciting and I think ‘Wow that's amazing’, and yet I want more.  There is a nagging urge to understand who this person is and how they think, what is their unique take on these events and this one life.

So is that the only way to tell a story?

Of course not.  Story is much bigger than that.

But it is an essential ingredient for a good personal story, one that is crafted and rehearsed for telling. Otherwise as my spade calling friend says ‘they’re wasting my time,’

And I am reassured that this is not just my take on a good personal story.  I have it on good authority, from other storytelling teachers, screenwriters, writing teachers and memoirists.  

Internal journey, meaning making, reflection on what it means to be human are essential ingredients to a good personal story.