Roger Rosenblatt came to town. I had the priviledge of listening to this rock star journalist give his speech “Tell Me a Story: Why We Talk to Each Other,” and learning under him when he taught my expository writing course a few days later.
I found the lecture particularly inspiring. Rosenblatt talked about how we are a narrative species. He gave examples from numerous books and poems. He said that everything is based on story: persecution and defense arguments in court, just talking to friends, Doctor’s giving progresses , our memories. Everything is a story and we tell stories to learn more about ourselves. His job as a teacher is to unearth stories from his students, because everyone has a story, he explained. I love that. As I listened to his speech, his compelling voice and words, I wanted to reach out to my former and present professors surrounding me. I wanted to reach out to them and say “Remember, that’s just like in Haroun and the Sea of Stories from British Literature!” Or “That’s what Ann Lamott said in Bird by Bird! In Writing for the Popular Market, you taught me that!” Or “That applies to the literacy Narrative we are making in Multimodal Composition!” I felt that as Rosenblatt spoke about the power of stories, he was reaching into me and reading off my love of literature, reading from inside me why stories matter.
He touched on how to begin a story at the lecture. In class he expanded on the lesson. He shut a door and said that he does the same for his regular classes, asking students to write about what they hear. Students wrote about doors closing when loved ones left, or when the students left to go somewhere, or arrived in a new place. Rosenblatt said that when you have a story to tell and you need to think of the best way to start, you should clear your mind and just relax. Somehow, a story will come to mind, and that it is usually the perfect beginning to the personal essay.
Recently I have been hearing a lot about personal essays, memoirs, and personal narratives. First, I heard Shannon Mehaan speak a few weeks ago. His story was amazing, compelling, and encouraging for anyone who feels the need to write through their own emotions. Of course Roger Rosenblatt talked about stories, both telling his own, but also urging others to realize the importance of stories. I watched videos of Ira Glass for a class assignment. Glass talked about how to tell a story for broadcasting. I loved that he emphasised not quitting. Everyone will fall short of their own expectations and goals at times, but that sticking with it makes all the difference, even if it is for years. Hearing about why stories are important, how to write them, and about other people’s stories, I begin to think of my own story. One thing all of these writer highlighted was how when writing your story, you have to think how that story connects with the human condition. How can people relate to my story? I am full of stories, but the amazing thing is that everyone around me is also full of stories, and somehow all our stories intertwine into one story.