“Tell your story walking”

“tell a lie sometimes, tell the truth

when it suits you, and when you’ve lost your way

tell a story.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling lately. Not just writing. Storytelling. Humans have been telling stories as long as we’ve been able to talk. We wrote them on walls. We drew them in sand and dust. It’s part of how our brains work, a vital part of the human situation which I’ve talked about in the past. Stories inform. Transmit vital knowledge, morality, and cultural tradition. We tell them. We write them. We sing them. We draw them.

In a very real sense, all art is a story. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” What about a sculpture? A symphony? It’s all part of the ongoing conversation that we take part in as members of the human race.

Why am I talking about this? I think, because of my move and other big changes in my life, I’m struggling with how to tell my stories now. When everything in your life has been upended, you need to find a new normal. A new way of doing things. Make new patterns. Tell new stories.

A friend linked me to Neil Gaiman’s wonderful commencement address at Philidelphia’s University of Art last week. Here’s what the storyteller had to say:

“When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician — make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor — make good art. IRS on your trail — make good art. Cat exploded — make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before — make good art.”

Make good art. Tell good stories. Tell them in new ways you haven’t tried before. Tell them even when you don’t really feel like it. Because there is a beauty even in the attempt.

And if you’re the amazing songwriter, Deb Talan (what? you’ve never heard of Deb Talan? Get thee to iTunes!) tell your story in a song.

Tell Your Story Walking

Tell it to the judge, man.

Tell it to your motherless reflection.

In a sock and one shoe

after the great defection

he said, “tell a lie sometimes, tell the truth

when it suits you, and when you’ve lost your way

tell a story.”

Tell your story, tell it, tell it.

Tell your story to anyone who’ll listen.

Tell your story, don’t stop talking

just tell your story walking.

Listing through Carol Gardens

on the way to Cobble Hill

I stopped by a psychic’s dusty, wilted windowsill.

Forgot what she told me, mostly

but I remember one thing she said

“You may slip and call some lousy fuck your friend

but in the end you’ll come out even

then, tell your story.”

And it’s a sorry, frightful thing

when you want to cry, but you can’t keep from laughing.

Outside the church that’s so quiet it dares you to shout

you put a hand to your mouth to stop the rain.

You do a St. Vitus dance, to the sky you raise your voice.

This is your chance, you have no choice

you tell your story.

Posted in Family, Fiction, Life, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .


  1. I’m been writing this epic Neil Gaiman post since I listened to that speech. He’s amazing. Great post! I k iw you’ll find your rhythm eventually and get back in the swin of things 🙂

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