Notes from Anne Lamott’s workshop, these on story telling, which is advice from her friend Terri Tate. Book Passages, Corte Madera last Saturday May 13, 2017.
From my new lime green notebook, a Fabriano with tiny grey dot grids on every page, I’m sharing Anne’s lead in on story telling. If I shared all the notes I took during the almost three hours Anne talked, this blog would go on and on. If I boil down all her writing advice to what I really HEARD this time I attend her workshop, it would come down to get a habit. Writing, like your diet, your exercise, your health, your teaching runs on routines…make it a 5-day a week daily habit and stick to it.
So, my reader might see why I’d rather focus on advice for storytelling. Making another good habit stick in my day is challenging, and that’s not an excuse not to do it. Another thought about storytelling is that I see how kids long to tell and hear stories and less and less time is allowed for that. Thanks to David Coleman and other trolls, narrative is considered baby stuff that has to be tolerated in primary age children, but otherwise ignored. Writing to learn is where it’s at. Ugh, the boring stepchild of close reading. (Real close reading does not confine one to the four corners of the page,) And, don’t get me started on his weird triangulation of the text types, two of which are purposes, not even genres.
- Trust that you’re loaded with stories waiting to be told
- Don’t think the story onto the page — let it flow.
- Blocked? That’s KFuck Radio (or The Vile Bitch Upstairs). Do what you can to clear the blockage. Like, give your inner critic something to do – for example, “Go sort those photos, please” and then get back to your story.
- Start IN the story. Don’t start with “I’m going to tell you” and don’t explain why. Jump in.
- Don’t force humor. If you are honest and descriptive it’ll probably be humorous, but you annoy your reader if you are Trying.
- Even heartbreak in a story, if it is told with sensory detail, can carry humor.
- Sometimes you’re too close to a story to tell it yet. Get some distance.
Now I’ve gotten to read through all those notes I took last Saturday. Anne is so quotable. Honest and witty. And I have to believe that I have stories, bunches of stories inside me, all wanting and waiting to be told.