Just a few months back, I read a book titled “The Golden Age”, written by Michal Ajvaz.
Such a lovely book!
So many unique images, themes, and concepts, all in a relatively short, beautifully written, book!
My favorite part of “The Golden Age” is when the narrator recalls meeting a woman who possessed a rather unique philosophy of life and storytelling.
The exact quote is, unfortunately, a little tricky to find.
If I remember correctly, though, the woman insisted that every single human being contains, within themselves, a never ending well of stories that only they are equipped to tell.
Even though the book is rich with wonderful ideas, unique observations, and compelling explorations; that one observation, and the vast implications contained within the observation, is the single moment in “The Golden Age” that stuck with me the most.
Just as you might expect, the rest of this essay is going to explore a fun method you can use to dive into this never ending well of stories that, as mentioned, only you are equipped to tell.
A fun method that is, in truth, more of a game than a method.
A game that is meant to be fun and rewarding, in ways that reveal themselves only through play.
A Storytelling Game
To play this game, you must know a little bit about the type of stories you will be telling.
Rather than coming up with an outline, think of a particular feeling, theme, or idea.
A vague, yet abundant, theme or concept, such as “love” or “forgiveness”, is fantastic.
A more specific, yet equally vast and abundant, theme, such as “parallel lives” or “the search for wisdom”, is also fantastic.
No matter what theme, concept, or feeling you wish to explore, write it down and make a choice to see what kinds of stories come to you while focusing on that which you’ve chosen.
The next step of the game is where your storytelling begins.
To play this game, you will be writing three stories.
Each story is intended to be no less than 100-words. That way, you’ll be able to come up with some images, some ideas, and maybe a character or two.
Really, though, this is just one way of playing the game. And, since these are your stories, please change the rules if you feel the desire to do so.
Right after you begin writing, make an effort to keep writing. To keep writing, until you feel that the story is finished and you’ve conveyed all that you wish to convey.
You can take a small break after finishing a story. Right after you begin the next story, though, try to continue writing until the story is finished.
Your stories may not, in your eyes, be particularly good or worth sharing.
This is okay. As long as you had a little bit of fun playing this game, you’ve succeeded.
Besides, even if your stories aren’t good, you’ve still created something that is uniquely yours.
Other Ways Of Playing The Game
Some people tell stories in mediums beyond writing.
For those people, my suggestion would be to adapt this game to your own unique medium.
Just as an example, if you enjoy drawing, you can think of a particular theme, concept, or feeling, and then create three unique drawings that explore what you’ve chosen.
No matter what your medium is, and no matter your sensibilities, feel free to adapt the rules of this game to fit your own style of creative play.
Every now and then, I’ll come up with a gem. Or, at least, a muddy stone that, if polished a great deal, could become a radiant gem.
For the most part, though, the stories that originate from this game are not very good.
Even though these stories tend not to be very good — yours might be, though, I am not sure — there is always some value to be found in them.
Some of this value comes from the act of telling these stories, which is meant to be a fun experience that allows for creative play.
Some of this value comes from the stories that you make, and the wisdom/understanding contained within those stories.
Within your stories, you can find the sensibilities that arouse your attention, traces of your current emotional state, images that speak to you, as well as the multitudinous facets of yourself that, while not presented consciously or with much regularity, exist and can be welcomed.
My suggestion, for you, is to return to the stories you’ve made — with this game, and in the past — while looking for the pieces of yourself within those stories.
The suggestion may sound silly. But, if you follow through, and really look at what you’ve made with the understanding that this is a reflection of yourself in ways you may not have ever been aware of, you will find some very special gifts and treasures.
Beyond all of that, though, you may also find unique ideas, fascinating characters, striking images, and various treasures that are worth engaging with and exploring even further.
Even if you don’t, though, as long as you’ve enjoyed telling a couple of stories, then all is well and you should be proud of what you’ve created.
Everyone Can Tell Stories
The act of telling stories can, at times, seem impossibly grandiose and exceptionally challenging.
In many ways, this is the truth.
At the same time, though, everyone tells stories.
Everyone tells stories, and everyone can tell stories.
Storytelling is, as a form of creative play, one of the oldest and most natural.
A form of creative play that, in my experience, is innate in more ways than one.
Our ability to tell stories is innate, just as our drive to tell stories is also innate.
Such a drive can, and should, be acknowledged and embraced.
Play is one of the easiest, and safest, ways of embracing our inherent longings, as well as our abilities to fulfill those longings, in a way that is both meaningful and enjoyable.
Please, don’t neglect your own abilities as a storyteller and, even more importantly, please embrace the extraordinary creative gifts and abilities that you possess