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Telling a Story

October 1, 2012 | 8 Comments

Dear Garrison,

I love telling myself stories. When I'm alone, I'll talk about interesting little things that happened during my day, and I feel terribly witty, but when I try to tell other people a story, I lose confidence, get nervous and cannot let loose. Any suggestions for how to have a good time telling a story to others?

Raj Katti


You're trying too hard, Raj. You are rehearsing a performance that then feels awkward in the context of conversation. Performance and conversation are two different things. If I were riding in the car with my friend Tom and I launched into a Lake Wobegon monologue, I'd feel weird and so would he. When you're with other people, accept that storytelling is a ragged, impromptu, interactive piece that depends on cues from the others, does not stand alone, and, hey -- maybe you're hanging out with the Wrong People.


Yep...and we don't all have Garrison's fluid brain and smooth tongue, not to mention that Raj might be multilingual in several languages beyond English..but the suggestion and the question still sound like good Midwestern advice from a wannabe Lutheran who probably does not know Greek or Hebrew or other Biblical languages...Thank God.(:)) it is difficult enough to keep up with Garrison's rapid fire neurons in his English Major voice..than trying to keep up with his thinking in multiple languages if Garrison spoke them...(:)

Raj's question and Keillor's answer could apply to anyone, so I am curious about the "otherness" that the previous commentors have seized upon. It seems quite condescending to assume, from his name, that Raj's English is a secondary language.

Aw, I don't think Larry was being offensive; he (may I assume Larry is a "he?")is not intentionally condescending. It seems what he was doing was complimenting GK. He said, "might," and could have said that about a person named Mary Smith.

This is going to sound "oh, poor me," but I too have trouble telling stories even in regular conversations with friends and family. I think I am using TMI, too much info.
There must be reasons for my behavior, but I have not discovered them yet. I'm 75.
One is the poor me one: my sense is that when I was a kid my parents really didn't have anything to say to me and my sisters. There was no encouragement to talk about anything. I learned early that they weren't interested. If they were alive today, they might challenge this perception, but they aren't. I have carried this burden for a long time. I do have fun talking with people that I meet, but I censor myself from the story part. Usually.
Raj, I know what you mean by telling yourself little stories. I do the same. It's as if I'm practicing for an event that's never going to happen in a way for that story to fit in. What makes us ill at ease? My best wishes to you.

Actually I was trying to comment on my friends from India who know multiple languages to communicate within India as juat routine wheras many Americans seem to feel a need to keep English protected by law instead of welcoming the opportunity to learn additional languages...but I was not clear in my communication. I also can't tell a story with one language...I can't imagine sorting through the multiple languages others possess to tell a story in one of them. Larry

I love the idea of BIG stories, and an artform for communicating ideas that are personal and universal yet. Like Myths and Fables, meant to go viral and to endure. Like the Oddysey and the Bible stories. Thank God we live in a time and place where we can still make up our own stories about how it was or what will be, to rival any.

The Glorious Unspoken

(The Only Failure Is To Refuse To Try)

The mute storyteller's tales
Fall on deaf ears.
He feels as he fails,
He realizes his fears.

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