Who One Tells and Why

I am never sure what whittles away the first 30 minutes of the morning. The absent-minded shuffling from room to room looking for my glasses. The search for wool socks tossed off in my sleep. But the morning always feels thinner than promised.

This morning begins with a pinch in my stomach. There’s uncomfortable synchronicity in a social media meme that pops up on my phone. It’s a flow chart illustrating the route of telling everyone about your project, and not finishing your project. And last night I joined a kind of work-in-progress group. I keep reminding myself that it matters who one tells, and why. And that the bit of wisdom is equally superstition. And that superstition is a kind of excuse more often than not. A cause & effect that protects the ego.

Not that we don’t need that now and then.

Yesterday I learned that not everything that emerges from a cocoon is a butterfly or even a moth. Some creatures evolve into venomous adults. Bees. Wasps. Incongruous with our expectations? But then I guess it is always about perspective: the nature program that tells the story of the hungry lioness who lost her cubs, the one that tells the story of her prey. I wrote a play for my students last term where a bit of lichen talks about being eaten by a butterfly. Who knew?

I want to get under the short-hand. Challenge the symbolism. I worry that no one has time for that. Then I remind myself that maybe it’s enough that I do. Maybe, actually, that is the whole point.

I’ve been struggling with the why of any kind of memoir work. The Moth’s tagline: “True as remembered by the storyteller”. Fair enough. But why… why is this remembered? And why is it told? To whom?

I am beginning to rest in the idea that this will take form through the process, and that it doesn’t need to be a structural pillar of the work. Maybe structural pillars aren’t all that necessary in the first place. Maybe it is okay to let the goo work its magic and trust what emerges is something greater than a reflection of your own masked Narcissus.


Leave a Comment

  1. Brilliant. And I firmly believe the shape comes from the process and from progress through it. I have never planned structural pillars in my work. Some might say that’s why I’ve never had a best seller. I would say it’s because those characters who people my work are their own people and lead the stories the way they want them to go.