This is a guest post by Laura Ehrke, CE Writing Instructor.
I knew I was in trouble when I first heard the phrase, “Je ne comprends pas.” Using my pocket French-English dictionary (these were the pre-Internet days of yore), I translated the phrase to mean, “I don’t understand.” Then, it got worse. Through my fractured French, I was finally able to communicate via the payphone that I was in Paris, waiting to meet my host family, only to learn that the host family was out of the country. At the time, I was pretty freaked out; I was 18 and on a very tight budget and now had nowhere to stay for the next week. Fast-forward twenty-odd years, the challenging experience made for a great story in a writing class, and then blossomed into my first novel.
…which leads me to my actual post – the story renaissance. The “trouble” prompt was recently used by Barrington’s White House to inspire storytellers to share their tales. This month, I attended two professional seminars, each of which featured sessions about storytelling. Watch coverage of tragedies such as the pandemic or Ukraine crisis, for example, and you’ll hear many stories, both heart-wrenching and heartwarming. Stories help us to remember those we lost, learn something new, share a laugh, document events for posterity, and help us make sense of what seems insensible. Through these narratives, we can better understand, empathize and connect with humanity.
The practice of storytelling reaches deep into our roots. Cave drawings in Lascaux and Chavaux, France, share stories of life from as far back as 30,000 years ago. The rich tradition of oral storytelling likely began with the origin of language itself, with epic poems such as “The Illiad” and “The Tale of Gilgamesh”, myths and moral fables being passed down from generation to generation before being preserved in print. It’s now easier than ever to share your stories, with friends and family or with the world; you just have to tell them.
Looking for inspiration? Check with your local library; many have programs devoted to recording stories. Storycorps.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing stories, and offers apps and resources to help you record yours. The Writing Studio offers classes that help you tell your story. Or, maybe just start with these writing prompts – you never know where they’ll lead you!
- My most spectacular failure was…. And this is what I learned from it.
- My life took a very unexpected turn when…..
- My best friend in high school was….and here are some of our funniest adventures…
- This person was the greatest influence on me while I was growing up. I learned….
- My greatest cooking disaster was…
- If I had only known then what I know now…
- I can laugh about it now, but at the time…
You have a story to tell! Start your first chapter with Harper College Community Education Writing Studio. Each course provides quality writing instruction, and interaction with other writers to get feedback and perspective on your work.
Writing Studio Categories: