Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 3, 2015

Writing your own stories, everyone is a storyteller

Writing your own stories, everyone is a storyteller

By Brenda Norrell
Journal of Frida Kahlo
Censored News

When it comes to writing down your own stories, there are many good ways, even for people who don't consider themselves writers. 
Some people work best at dawn or sunrise, and write "morning pages," just letting the thoughts flow without correcting, that comes later. It can be words and drawings, on any type of paper.
Other people work best recording their stories into a tape recorder, especially while driving or walking, and just letting the thoughts flow. (You or someone else can transcribe these before the tape gets lost.) 
Still others tell their stories best on video. But with all technology, it is best to have some sort of back up. 
As for privacy with the words you write, you'll need to decide whether you are just working through an issue, and whether you want anyone else to read it.
Before you know it, you'll have a book. 
Blogging is a good way to tell stories if you work best on a deadline -- but it has become a dangerous field. 
As a warning: The profiteering by the unethical is hard to believe on the web. People will go to extremes to make money off your good work and stories. They'll do everything from plagiarism to rewriting. They often post work on web pages with advertising to make money off others work, or use ad words. They do this in other countries as well, grabbing work from the Internet, and this makes any sort of justice difficult to obtain. 
Facebook is a dangerous place to post long original stories, or even original photos or art, for there's always people looking to make a profit off of others work. There's endless schemes to do this. Don't be surprised if Facebook claims they own all your work eventually. This is true for all the services on the web, especially the free ones. 
And as always, research non-profits carefully before becoming involved. Ask for a list of the salaries of all staff, copies of the grants obtained and how the money is spent. 
And finally read other writers. 
When I was a new reporter, I read the leads, first paragraphs, in the New York Times. Today, I would probably choose The Guardian instead.
Years ago, I spent a night in a bed and breakfast on the island of Fiji. I saw the listing on the wooden airport wall. At the home, the room was painted yellow. There was a ceiling fan with a tropical bird singing outside. The home owners, from India, were cooking pungent fish curry for our dinner. I strongly felt the presence of Ernest Hemingway, even though I had never read his novels. On a flat-bottomed boat thrashing around in a typhoon in the Pacific Ocean days later, I felt Hemingway's presence again. 
Years later, I read the large book of Hemingway's letters, which offers a great deal about the struggles and gifts of being a writer.
Book reviews can also be inspiring. Libraries are full of the unexpected. The Navajo Library in Window Rock always had interesting historical papers and books. 
Elders are always a rich source of stories. And recording life with cameras or video cameras, even inexpensive ones, can be inspiration for stories later. 
Inspiration comes in all forms, a walk in the woods, listening to birds, the sound of the ocean, the sight of a mountain, and reflecting on the scents, sounds and images that evoke memories.
So that's a few ideas from the long journey I've been on writing. It is never easy, but if the words won't leave you alone, you just have to wrestle with those, keep trying, and write. -- Brenda

"Writers must oppose systems. It's important to write against power, corporations, the state, and the whole system of consumption and of debilitating entertainments [...] I think writers, by nature, must oppose things, oppose whatever power tries to impose on us." - Dom Delillo, Bronx-born author.

No comments: