inside story

Change Your Story, Change Yourself
By Bonnie Swift

The Personal Myth

(Part 2 of 3)

Let’s consider an unfortunate hypothetical situation in which a person reaches his or her mid-30s or -40s, and things aren’t going so well. This person’s self esteem is low, he is having a hard time finding work, or a romantic partner, or whatever… there are so many ways that things can be less than perfect in midlife. What should this person do if he’d like to make some serious changes in the way he experiences the world?

One suggestion, which is pertinent to this blog’s discussion of narrative and craft, is succinctly summed up by Maria Popova, who, in a review of psychologist Timothy Wilson’s newest book, Redirect, suggests that we approach life changes as narrative challenges. “Our experience of the world is shaped by our interpretations of it, the stories we tell ourselves,” she writes, “and these stories can often become so distorted and destructive that they completely hinder our ability to live balanced, purposeful, happy lives, so the key to personal transformation is story transformation.”


On Repetition in Storytelling
By Martin Shaw

From the SSP blogging staff: In preparation for our event this Friday with Coleman Barks and Martin Shaw, SSP blogger Bonnie Swift held an informal interview with Martin Shaw, asking him about repetition in the oral tradition, in the light of Shaw’s telling of the Handless Maiden myth.

What follows is the full text of Shaw's response.

The raw ground of many of these stories I tell are to be found in oral culture. A time when human speech was clearly a note in a far wider music - the roots of these tales carrying the croaking-burrs and twigged silver musings of the magpie tucked tight in their thinking. The teller was placed within, rather on top, of the web of sound the living world creates. This base-line consciousness creates a very vivid negotiation with the wider psyche of sea foam and black bear. Everything is intelligent, animate, communicating.