The thought of writing another person’s story is a daunting and delicate process. Being given a responsibility, a responsibility of capturing the words and the emotions that come with and giving your best interpretation of that narrative.
A narrative that I have not experienced. A narrative that I have not lived.
The realisation here is…
The retelling of another’s story is never going to be the exact same.
I immediately think of that childhood game of ‘Chinese Whispers’. Chinese whispers, which I’ve now learnt is politically incorrect and considered somewhat offensive. It always seemed a harmless game to me but like other innocent parts of our childhoods (e.g. baa baa black sheep) have been stolen in our politically correct run world.
Anyway the point I wanted to make was, that the concept of that game is pretty similar the dilemma us storytellers have. That is, ultimately the original story (or whisper) ends up different in the hands of another person. It can be a deliberate or misunderstood change but more often than not, the story is interpreted different by the person listening.
How can we do justice to the original story?
We can’t always write down word from word what we are being told and then repeat exact words, as if it were some over rehearsed monologue.
As I reflect on my own experiences I realise that, we are all storytellers by nature. We exaggerate, we alter the details, we twist the truth, we take hold of a series of events and provide a story that makes interesting for our audience. Whether it be describing to our families an exciting Monday morning spent as if it weren’t mundane or an elaborate excuse for missing a friend’s birthday because we didn’t want to go.
It is our nature to tell stories. So, with another’s story, it is only natural that we tell it using words and emotions as if the story were our own.
By controlling the narrative, it is our best way of understanding the true meaning of the story and portraying it as if we had lived it ourselves.