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Telling Your Story

June 22, 2014

I was six years old when I heard my father’s first story. It was a very warm, early summer evening in Phoenix, Arizona. The single-pane glass doors of the tiny back porch patio of his apartment stood open. The breezes filled the room like a liquid filling a vessel – the air conditioner losing its fight to control the atmosphere of the tiny space.

The apartment was really only one room. It was divided into two areas by the bookshelves my father had brought with him from his life in the Midwest; this made a more or less solid wall between what we called the living room and his bedroom. There was not a single space loose to peek through to the other side. The books were packed so tightly that they looked ready to explode off the shelves to be free.

My father sat quietly thinking for a solid 40 minutes on his black cotton sofa while I was left to my own devices. His face  was stern, eyes closed and focused.

This thinking man could craft a story without pen and paper, without computer, and without a recording device. This is how my love of stories began. A man’s seemingly innate ability to convey the plot, people, and places he created in his head in an intricately woven tale of the frightening, bloody, and macabre. These were tales to chill my sisters and me to the bone before we went to sleep, whether in the apartment or camping out under the wide open skies of the Arizona desert.

That was my father’s way of telling stories. My path wasn’t to be discovered until about one decade later in high school. While reading books by Dean Koontz and James Patterson, I found myself intrigued by the art of storytelling, not in a conscious manner but in my rebellious questioning of why not? I spent one random afternoon after school writing for six hours. Time ceased its existence. The world fell away, and my world became reality – at least for a time. It felt like only one hour had passed when I had completed this exercise of my mind, and I felt proud of what I had accomplished. I knew it wasn’t as good as what I was reading, but it was a start. And so my journey has taken me through the realm of the written word to even dabbling in videographic and photographic stories.

No matter what story you hold inside—be it your life, folklore, research you want to share, a romance, family history, cookbook, etc.—you have to choose how it should be told. Tales can cross the realms of oral, written and digital storytelling. I think my father chose to tell his stories rather than write them because it brought him, my sisters, and me closer as a family. Stories connect us from one person to the next, from one experience to the next.

What story are you telling now?

~Cody C.
Woodneath Library Center

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