Monday, June 2, 2008

Story telling

This is my 200th post! Pretty exciting stuff. I've decided to revisit, as part of a new eBook project on reclaiming sex after birth, my Summer editorial from Down to Birth. Happy two hundred blog posts to me and may the light continue to shine the path less travelled ....

Story telling is as old as antiquity, as old as both written and spoken language. I believe, it is one of the building blocks of what makes us quintessentially human. At the Goddess conference last year, I literally took to heart the charge given to us, to go out, each of us and tell our stories as women. This seemed to be a truly divine and special charge. I was a bit slow to realise that this really isn’t such a new thing for me.

I belonged for four years, to a community of women who regularly, boldly, honestly and bravely shared their stories as women. Many women from this community are still close and special friends. I also edited for three years a magazine that is unique for regularly printing homebirth stories, in a climate that projects and promotes birth as a fearful and dangerous medical event. It shouldn’t have seemed such an important task to ‘go out and share my story’ – but it was, it was my invitation to leave the world in which I felt safe and comfortable and to embark on a journey as a writer.

Julia Cameron, author of ‘The Artist’s Way’ says that sharing truth is like shining the light into the darkness. I have discovered that not everyone wants you, much less applauds your efforts, to shine the light of truth - not everyone wants you to tell your story.

It’s tough because those closest to us, their stories are intimately entwined with our own and you can’t help but share parts of their stories when you tell your own. It is inevitable that you will hold up a mirror to those around you when you share your story – what they see is their reflection. Often what people do is project what they see back onto you, and this is where I believe we become unstuck. When sometime strikes a chord in us, or we feel challenged, wounded or hut, we need to look into ourselves to see what it is, rather than seek to lash out. I’ve been there, and I have done it. Now I pause before I react to try and understand what it is in ME, not in THEM that I'm interacting with.

I understand now why we have created mythology, fables and fairy tales. In fiction there is a safety to share wisdom and insights without upsetting others. I also appreciate why it is so damn difficult to share our stories as women and why it essential, despite the opposition, that we must tell our stories. My fiction is steeped in my own life fiction – there is a little or a lot of me, my life, my trials and tribulations in everything that I write. Those close to me will see whatis fiction, what is fantasy and what is the place between.

There is a safety in writing fiction to explore the places less traveled, and as my friend Catherine pointed out, there is also a safety in reading fiction, to explore both the dark and light places. As writers, when we shine our light, we have no idea how far that small beam will shine or just what it will light on it's way.

(Revised extract from The Down to Birth Summer editorial ‘Sex After Birth)

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