Monday, January 03, 2011

Personal stories


I almost always think the glass is half full. Yup, I've always been a Pollyanna.

Though I tell personal stories (often personal fiction, as I don't adhere strictly to the facts), I haven't written much here about them. Most of my personal stories start with a seed of truth, which may take years to live in the compost of my brain before I water them and they begin to grow. Sometimes what was initially a painful life experience changes completely. The first one I ever told, Chester Parker, was about being teased when I began telling it. The more I told it, the less it was about teasing and more about differences in social class.

Personal stories are rarely ready to tell immediately. Usually they need time, perspective and sometimes even therapy before they are tellable--and listenable. I forget which storyteller said, "If you're doing therapy on stage, you should be paying the audience." I never want the audience to feel like they have to take care of me. I also want my stories to have the right balance of specific and universal, so the audience doesn't listen and say, "So what?" at the end.

I've been thinking lately about the particular story I've been living. It's not ready to tell yet, but someday it--or part of it--might make a good one. A cautionary tale, maybe.

Here's the very short version: I upended my life and moved from Lawrence, KS to Kansas City, KS in September with my beau. We'd been together for almost two years. In October, I broke up with him. Before you feel sorry, know that this was absolutely the right thing to do. Not easy, but right. He stayed in the house for two months while I stayed with my fabulous family and friends.

So, the glass is half full. I'm now back in my new house (I like it!), settling in to a new life in a new city, with a new cat (more on him in another post). I'm exploring Kansas City. Lawrence is only 40 minutes away.

In stories, as in life, growth comes from transformation. For the story to be interesting, the main character has to change in some way. I guess it was time for me to grow. We'll see what happens next.

6 comments:

Granny Sue said...

Now that's a good basis for a novel, Priscilla, except it happens to be true. I am glad you are settled into your new place and as always, looking ahead with your usual happy outlook. There's no way of knowing someone, really, until you share a kitchen with them ;)

Funny, the word verification is "baler."

Priscilla Howe said...

Ha! Yup, I'm the baler.

Emilie Andrade said...

We are so far away,but so close! Let me introduce myself, my name is Emilie and I am a storyteller from Brazil. I often visit you, but today I couldn't help writting something.
Very inspiring, very close to me.
Thank you

Flo said...

P - I feel like I want to buy you and drink and talk about it. You can only drink half, of course.
Take care!
Bonne année et bon chance,
--S;

Priscilla said...

Flo (I always get a little thrown off by that name for you!), thanks, I'll take you up on that half-full drink someday.

Sean said...

Ending with, "Keep your fork...there's pie." says it all. Thanks for your energy, honesty and contribution to the lives of so many.