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Monday
Aug242009

"Tell Me A Story."

Tell me something that happened. Use the names of people you’d forgotten about, and say what you’d thought would happen but didn’t. Write down what part of the song was playing when you slammed the door only to realize you had to go back inside for your car keys. Can you remember when you were still little enough to hide under the kitchen sink where it smelled like ammonia and Comet and old sponges? What was the color of the clunky old car your Dad would let you help steer. What brand did he smoke?
- Merlin Mann

It would have been so easy to "heart" this quote on Tumblr, then walk away. Which is what I did at first. But it wasn't enough: this experience of storytelling - this is exactly why I write (and read) online.

The same sentiment was echoed in the "60 Minutes" special we watched last night, a memorial for the show's creator, Don Hewitt. Don's mantra was "four words: tell me a story." Because that's all that matters. Merlin is right. Don was right. That's all that matters. Most art is born out of this need to share stories, share portions of our lives meaningful enough to come back to us every time we sit down in front of a keyboard (or easel, or piano) and try to form words (or lines, or chords).

The "clackity noise," as Merlin calls it, is what brings these things out. All of it. Sitting down, and typing. In small little puffs of air: the tiger's eye color of a Goody barrette pulling back your babysitter's hair as she sits motionless in front of the television (shhh "General Hospital"'s on), the sound of the air conditioner in the Dodge van being turned on Maximum High as you kick your Dr. Scholl's off and under the seat, the smell of the grass and dirt and boy that mingled together late one night and lingered long enough for you to mark it down in your journal in a scrawl so frantic you could barely read it years later, punctuated by row after row of swooning hearts and giddy stars. Or huge great marathons of memory, sense, and time, an entire house reconstructed on the page, when you don't want to stop for a second in case it all might fly away - boards, nails, chimney, curtains, attic, and all - into the ether.

Keep typing. Tell me a story. It's what we're here for.

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