Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Am I Quibbling?

Rosanna posted a link to a TED talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s just over 7 minutes long, and if you haven’t watched it, you might find some value here.

Gilbert speaks of returning home, to that spot where you are doing the thing you love more than you love yourself. For her, it has always been writing. Whenever she found herself “away from home” either in the euphoria of success or the darkness of failure, she discovered that she needed to “write” her way back home to center.

It got me thinking, what does “home” mean to me, in terms of Gilbert’s  model? My first instinct was to say “writing.” But I think that’s a step removed from home. For me, I think I’ve arrived to my source when I say I’m a storyteller.

storytellerAs a girl when I shared a bedroom with my younger brothers, I’d tell them bedtime stories. Some I made up, others were variations on church camp lore, like Herman the Worm. We’d get into trouble for giggling too much at the punch line, “I burped”.

In grade school, when the teacher asked us to write a story about autumn, I proudly presented my “manuscript” The Story of Micky Maple Leaf. Multiple pages, rather than multiple paragraphs. The highlight was reading it aloud to the class, the performance part, the story telling. I clearly recall the excitement that held for me, and the disappointment when composition class was no more.

As I grew older, I’d embellish jokes, or the reporting of an event. I am painfully aware that I need an editor. I’m one of those people who feels that you need to know the back story as to why I need to go to the grocery store.  I’ll start on a long-winded explanation, realize that I’m doing it AGAIN, and before you know it, I’m all tangled and self-conscious, trying to edit and cut to the chase and… where was I? Oh yeah, I’m going to the grocery store. We are out of milk.

I dabbled in theatre. I’m not proud to confess that I left the stage because I couldn’t handle all of the egos. The biggest was mine. Do I need the spotlight all to myself?


Maybe not. Acting is telling someone else’s story. Maybe I need for my voice to be heard. That is certainly a frequent lament of mine, both directly and subconsciously. Hear me! Pay attention! I am hurt. You do not understand, and on and on…

One of the most hurtful memories of my mother was when she’d say, “Don’t mind her. She just wants attention.”

Well, D’UH, mom, ya think?

Back then I did not have the resources, neither vocabulary nor intellect nor emotional maturity. Today, I like to think that I’ve got a handle on observing and recording life. (OK, I’ll admit that there’s room for improvement in the emotional maturity department, but two out of three ain’t bad. )

Writing is the platform for telling my stories. Am I quibbling? Perhaps. But I do not get the same jolt of recognition when I say “I’m a writer” that I do when I declare, “I’m a storyteller.”

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Storyteller Artwork Source

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40 replies

  1. Lovely piece. Simply lovely. Well told. Beautiful artwork. Excellent springboard video. I am so profoundly touched there’s a lump in my throat… although truthfully that could also be because I am mere minutes — nay seconds — away from getting off duty for 3 days off, after working 11 days in a row!

    Seriously, I am humming along on the same frequency: hear me, pay attention, hear my voice. To this day, I cannot forgive my mother for calling me a spoiled brat… when all I wanted all along was for her to hear my story (and make the trauma stop).

    I am now being rudely interrupted by my relief, so I must leave it here for now. Miss you. More later.

    xoxox :>


    • ❤ time a bazillion. There were two, possibly three times when she felt compelled to slam me that way and each time I reeled as if physically attacked. The sense of betrayal was immediate, and clearly, very long lasting. In other words, I can somewhat imagine your feelings.
      I miss seeing you here too, and now I know why. Duty calls! Have a great 3 day break!


  2. In the parlance of today’s culture you’re a “performance artist” and you perform the spoken word. You are hip!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that is why I am drawn to your blog. You do have a gift for telling stories!


  4. Wow, you’re absolutely right. Storyteller really does sound better, doesn’t it? I loved the Ted Talks. Then again, I love most all Ted Talks. There’s just something about them. Just like there’s something about you 😉



  5. I like the idea of the performance artist. It elevates the storyteller up several notches!! … and you’re absolutely right – it is more than just writing, isn’t it?

    It’s an interesting question though – what represents ‘home’? I have a feeling I’m going to be pondering that for a while….it’s what I do – over think everything.


  6. There are many writers out there who claim to be storytellers, but are more like scene designers and sketch artists. There are many others who don’t claim to be storytellers at all. You, my friend are a storyteller. Your voice rings through in every word. Don’t doubt it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very insightful! Have you ever considered writing plays, rather than acting? Have you ever listened to any of the Alan Bennett audio books where he reads his writings? He has a slow delivery; his very astute way of looking at the world is very funny. Your writing reminds me of his way of looking at the world. Of course his writing can be found in books too. A delightful little story is called ‘The uncommon reader’, that I think you might enjoy.


  8. I loved the illustration you chose to illuminate your storytelling image. We should all be listened to, and we should all be so fortunate as to have “weavers of words” like you in our midst.


    • Thanks, Sammy! Illustrating my posts is one of the treats of this blogging exercise. I do a Google search and more often than not, I just wait for one to jump off the screen, just like this one did.
      Being heard is a fundamental theme of mine. Lately, as in the last few years, it’s become more of a sore point. I guess I’ve felt muzzled (by myself as much as anyone else) long enough.


  9. You took the thoughts right out of my head. I enjoy telling tales. Writing is just one of the tools I use. Great post!


  10. Our parents did have that need to take us down, eh, Maggie ? – it was how they’d been raised. I gave another library talk today; and I know what you mean about that performance aspect … Don’t ever lose your keenness …


    • Regarding “that need to take us down”… It would seem, M-R. I get the animal kingdom stuff of adolescents and seniors jockeying for dominion, but I thought it was reserved for lions and tigers and bears! I’m pleased that you are enjoying the book tour work. Is that something that you organize on your own?


      • Yup. Anything to do with the book I organise. Hoping to break into Probus, but it’s not proving easy at all. I have my first Probus talk in August; so maybe once I’ve actually done one, I might get a foot in the organizational door …


  11. This is wonderful. I envy your ability to tell your story. ‘Hear me! Pay attention! I am hurt.’


  12. Maggie, I’ve been traveling so found this post late, but I feel compelled to comment. Reading your well written, honest words, I felt like I was also reading my heart, the heart of a fellow storyteller prone to exaggeration and detail and thrilled when others are listening and responding. My favorite part of publishing a book is the readings where I immediately hear and feel the response of an audience to my words. Thank you so much for capturing my essence.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve seen a couple videos of Elizabeth Gilbert that made me a big fan. Now, if I could just find time to read her work…

    I love your story about the grocery store story. I know it well.


  14. To me, who has not been reading the blogs of others for very long (my own blog started on Blogger solely as my online journal–a way to think, and escape), it is an interesting and revelatory experience to feel like one is getting to know another’s intimate personal details via “only” their blog postings.

    Learning that you cut your storytelling teeth simultaneously with those erupting from your gums makes your mad skills now certainly not less impressive, but rather more understandable. I love imagining you entertaining your siblings!

    i sometimes write well, but after hours or days of struggle. You always write well–very well–and can do so daily. Perhaps, by the time I grow up, this storytelling stuff will also become easier for me : )


  15. Thanks for mentioning the post on my blog. Seems like you’re not just a born writer, perhaps you would do well as a storyteller too – we don’t have them here in the Philippines, but I’ve read of venues for live storytelling in the West. Anyway, whatever venue you use, just keep on telling stories, Maggie!



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