Thursday, February 28, 2013
The Care & Feeding of a Storyteller
by Dee Davis
I think being a storyteller is something you’re born with. It’s part of your genetics. Something that inhabits every fiber of your being. There is an insatiable desire to fill a blank page. To share the world, as you see it, with others.
But like everything important in life, creativity has to be nurtured. And in today’s world where everything is focused on the bottom line and success is measured not in terms of satisfaction and happiness but in how quickly one’s bank account grows, it’s easy for something like writing to get pushed to the side. For people to shake their heads and say “but what are you going to do to earn a living?”
So it’s important to have people in your life who reinforce that spark within you. Who help you to realize that not everyone follows the same beat. And I’ve found in my lifetime that they all do it in different ways.
My father, also a natural born storyteller, used to sit with me and people watch. We’d make up stories about the characters walking by us, amusing ourselves for hours with imagined tales of intrigue and adventure. He always saw the funny side of things. And never failed to make me laugh. He taught me the value of seeing people for who they really are. He made me realize that there are many more layers to an individual than what appears on the surface.
My mother is an intellectual. Smarter than pretty much anyone I know (except maybe my daughter.) And she’s a voracious reader. So she gave me two special gifts. The power of knowledge and all that it gives to those who pursue it. And the joy of the written word. Storytelling as an art form. We spent hours at the library when I was growing up and she introduced me to some of my favorite authors. And then when our interests diverged, she pointed me in new directions.
I didn’t turn to writing as a career possibility until much later in my life. I let the world convince me that there were smarter pursuits. That unless you were incredibly lucky, creative people just weren’t as likely as others to succeed in their chosen profession. I majored in political science and then obtained a masters in public administration. From there, I went on to create a successful career in association management. But there was always a part of me that wasn’t satisfied—that needed the creative outlet.
And so as I considered reinventing myself when my daughter first went off to school, I carefully broached the subject of writing with my husband, steeling myself for discussions on common sense and bottom lines. But instead, I found something quite amazing. Unconditional support. No questions. No doubts. Just complete faith in me and my talent. I’ve never felt anything like it. And I can truly say that without it, I wouldn’t have had the courage to jump off into what seemed, at the time, a very deep and daunting chasm.
Writing this post, fourteen years later, I still feel the same way. My father, in spirit now, is always with me, reminding me to look around and really see the world. My mother is my rock. She keeps me grounded and focused. And my husband still supports me unconditionally. Always there to lift me up when I begin to doubt myself and my decisions. I am so blessed. Not only do I get to do what I love. I get to do it surrounded by people who love me. And that, I think, is the greatest gift of all!
Dee Davis is the author of twenty-one novels, and four novellas. When she’s not off in a world of her own, she spends her time exploring New England with her husband and daughter. Visit her at www.deedavis.com