It’s not your story once you tell it

My friend wrote a blog post about a Thanksgiving where his uncle got drunk and they had to call 911. He told me more about it when I met with him on Friday, and described some detail I didn’t remember from the post. The detail was about a doormat, the kind with black rubber strips connected by pieces of wire, how his uncle had lost so much blood in his head, it pooled up in the spaces between the tread in the doormat.

I think the hard part about blogging is taking personal stories and transmitting them, having to let go the personal part, feeling a sense of responsibility to how it’s told, because it’s true, it’s personal.

But the story isn’t yours anymore once you share it. It passes around the village, if it’s a good story. And as with the story about the telephone game, where the actual details get muddled with each passing, the story changes the more it gets told.

We tell stories to entertain, to educate…sometimes, to get something off our chest so we don’t have to carry it around anymore. Which is why secrets are stories that can harm us, because they take on more strength the longer they’re inside.

My grandfather told a story about a Scottish terrier he had as a boy, who they left behind one day and found following them in their car. As he started to lose his memory in old age, it became a story he’d retell, about the dog named Scotty. We all laughed and marveled at the punchline each time, as my grandfather repeated the main plot lines. It was a sandcastle he built with the same basic shapes, doomed to disappear with the next tide.

And so the power of story is to find a place you can return to with others, and get them to walk the woods with you. Once you show it to them they will go back with their friends, they won’t need you, and that’s alright. It’s your job to build the castle.

Categories: writing

Tags: , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. wonderfully told, my friend.


  2. I love this.

    Although I think my husband will disagree with the wonders of repeating stories. He’s heard most of mine a zillion times and is glad that I now blog about them so he doesn’t have to hear the same story for the zillion-and-first time!


  3. This story is very thoughtfully written, my friend. It challenges to revisit how to tell mine. Thank you.


  4. Bill,
    The story your grand father told you was slightly different from the one he told me. He said he and the dog had gone in a boat to an island and they left the dog behind when they returned only to see the poor dog swimming frantically behind their boat. It was somewhat disturbing to me. Recently my mother recounted an abandonment story he experienced as a child where his mother failed to rescue him from a viscious dog. Funny how all these elements seem to recombine, Dad


Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: