Tuesday, September 9, 2014
The Magic of Relating Experiences
I once read a blog post where a woman described being defecated on by her newborn son in such horrifically fascinating detail that I longed for the opportunity to commiserate her experience with her.
I've since changed my mind on that...
The art of relating an experience is what an author/writer aspires to do.
Doing it well is not only a skill, it's a master-craft.
Did you see Lego Movie?
Masterbuilders? Well there are MasterWriters.
Those are the people that can see the elements of an experience that can be arranged and highlighted in such fashion as to render the listener/reader incapable of turning away or closing the book.
Taking things from one mono-angle and elevating the perspective to widen your ability to appreciate the horror of butt-splosion from an unhappy infant.
We've all read the Facebook posts that say nothing more than *Boo, or some other derivation of bland complaint. Did you fall into the trap of following-up for more detail?
Did you get any more detail?
Often those who lack the vision to expound on their experiences from the start can't satisfy your curiosity (at least that's what I've decided to tell myself after totally falling for this kind of post and being left in the lurch).
How much more satisfying is being transported into a friends experience--getting a glimpse into their ability to manipulate an event based on their reinterpretation for entertainment sake? (I'm not talking exaggeration or falsification--far better. The ability to relate an event and make it so personal you know what someone is talking about even if it's never happened to you).
Last winter I was driving a particularly treacherous canyon road in the middle of a whiteout snowstorm. I was terrified. Literally scared out of my mind.
Guess what? That's not interesting.
And it didn't help me handle the situation with any additional skill or grace.
Drawing upon some story relator masters I had been devoting hours of spare time listening to/reading. I decided to *retell* myself the experience I was having.
Winter Olympics were happening during that time. It gave me a perfect opportunity to reshape the event.
NOTE: I'm still learning this craft of story relating--you will see the flaws, but this is a blog about the bumps in trying to bring myself up to the level of those I'm inspired by. Enjoy my amateurish awareness into new ways of thinking, speaking, sharing... :D
*I just won the gold medal in multi-ton vehicle canyon Luge! It was a white knuckle blind turn race with 27 competitors backed up behind me- poised to take the lead. No one could see worth crap. Making turns as we had all memorized them in the months of practice runs down and up the canyon. Practice paid off! We're alive! But, I got the gold- so HA!*
I failed to bring the reader into the moment the snowsheet cleared to reveal I was in the oncoming lane with a massive semi-truck yards way and closing. The only thing that saved me was the mind-numbingly slow speeds required under that kind of snow-terror-driving.
Practicing to re-frame my experiences, so that even I would want to have them, has a bonus effect.
My life is way more awesome than it used to be.
Almost every mundane event and experience can benefit from a change of angle. I have found I'm much more content day to day.
*If you see me staring insanely at nothing I'm being awesome. Ask me about it in ten minutes and I can relate to you how awesome the moment was.
If you want to experience True MasterWriters I'll direct you to:
Dan Carlin (this man is the best I've ever heard. Even if you have no interest in history, listening to his podcasts will heighten your expectations for retelling of events) Hardcore History
And anything written by Sara Baxter www.sarajbaxter.com.
There is magic in all things--If you know how to tell(show if you're writing, of course) it right.