Ten Thousand Days

The Art of Storytelling

June 4, 2016
Photo: Aaron Burden

Photo: Aaron Burden

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 649 – Day 655)

I have a few artists I call friends, and a whole lot with whom I am acquainted.  Recently I met an artist and they asked me if I am an artist, too.  I get this question sometimes.  Sometimes I say that I am a photographer, sometimes I mention that I’ve started sketching and painting at a beginner level.  But always, I say I am a writer.  Oh, many of them say, well, almost an artist.


How do we differ?

I am a personal essayist, feature writer, dramatist and fiction writer.  I take images, words and ideas and I put them on the canvas of the blank screen.  Then I erase, I adjust, I blend, and sometimes, I just start over again.   I go into a feeling state and try to evoke the same feeling states in the reader.  I allow myself to be vulnerable and expose my own humanity in the hope that the reader will be in touch with their own, through the journey.  The act of telling a story is the art of synthesis, of persuasion, of captivation, and of beauty.  We seek to express and connect, and in that act, to transform.

So, tell me, how is this not art?

Another artist recently compared their creative process with the act of writing an interview.  It’s different for you, they said.  You don’t have to create anything.

No media is objective. Gathering a series of anecdotes and turning those into a story is an act of creation.   It is rare that a subject tells their own story in a way that reveals the meaning, within their life.  Their sense of meaning is a private one.  It is the role of the storyteller to find and reveal the universal from the personal.  I take the incidents of life, form insightful questions, add textures, and highlights and I break things apart and move things around and I delete.  Finally, I shape and reconstruct the form.  I imagine this is something like sculpting, but we call it storyboarding and the raw material for the portrait is a kind of personal psychology and universal mythology, revealed in language.

The art of storytelling predates the written word.  Often it was an account of actual events, but through remembrance and in the telling, it was the carrier of culture and history and the sense of something bigger than ourselves. What remains of our first stories are cave paintings but in various ancient cultures, storytelling involved not only rock paintings, but enacted oral narrative, dance, and music.

We were all One, in the beginning – in the art of storytelling.



I’m grateful that I learned early that I could express myself in words and I am grateful that at a time when perhaps my parents were preoccupied with their own agendas, my art took nothing more than  a pen and paper, and if I was lucky, a stage.  I am grateful that the internet has made publishing into a democratic process.  It is a joy to read other’s work and a delight whenever someone tells me that they were touched by something that I wrote.

Because it is an act of expression and connection, writing is my first way of working with Oneness.  Some days (more than I’d like to admit), my ego gets in the way and I start to question why I bother to write anything, let alone these very personal gratitude posts.  And yet, I do the service of showing up and writing and walking the talk (imperfectly) of these practices.  Even if I am the only one transformed, that itself is meaningful, and it changes the world.

Each week we come to the fireside to tell a story about Life, lived gratefully. Dance, paint or sing along, as you wish.

Photo: Kimson Doan

Photo: Kimson Doan


For what are you grateful this week?


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  • Reply Urspo June 4, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    Writing is art; we are artists who express ourselves through writing.
    Writers have the curious paradox they express what can’t be said in words in writing.

    • Reply Tania D. Campbell June 5, 2016 at 1:49 am

      Well said. Xx

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