Monday, November 7, 2016

One Note At A Time


One Note At A Time

I recently sat at one of several black wrought iron bistro tables that lined the pebbled sidewalk of “Coffee Street”.  The late October sun had been generous. Coffee drinkers, like sunflowers, sat outside turning their faces to the warm light. They basked in its summer-has-not-yet-left promise.

At the table next to me were two older men reminiscing about their respective careers. While I was not eavesdropping, I was able to hear an occasional partial sentence and noticed how even just a partial phrase conjured up the start of a folktale.

For example:

“When I was in Nigeria we didn’t worry about that…” said the light-haired man. 

Worried about what? What was he doing in Nigeria?  And, how did he handle the worry he did have?

Ever on the lookout for living folktales because I see them everywhere, I was tempted to lean over and tell them to preserve the folktales – life stories - they were telling one another.  Afraid that might be too cavalier, I said nothing. Instead I wondered if they even knew they were telling each other folktales.

Most people don’t.

That’s the rub. Especially because it takes literally only minutes at a time to preserve a folktale, to capture for all time a memorable moment. That moment then continues to exist long after we are no longer around to do the telling ourselves.

Anyone can make a quick laundry list of what they recall about a particular time, place, event, person or thing. Then, at a later time that person can go back and add more information to each bullet point. That’s how the list grows into sentences that can become paragraphs. The result could be a folktale; something families and friends could treasure for years to come.

It’s really that simple. So the next time you find yourself telling others about one of your life stories, see if you can find a few moments afterwards to jot down a few notes about that folktale-in-the-making.

You (and others) will be glad you did!

Want to learn more about writing folktales? Click here.

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