Other Dec. performances: Virginia (Williamsburg)
Upcoming Jan. 2014 performances: GA (Atlanta); VA (Aldie, Middleburg, Purcellville, Williamsburg, Norfolk), WV (Nellis)
Is it okay to change the truth of a personal story’s ending? For instance saying, “the ending is not what I wanted it to be, so I’ll make it more…inspirational, funny, or adventurous.” I have heard some storytellers say that it’s fine to take some liberties with the truth. I just read a comment quoted from Kendall Haven (and I am paraphrasing, since I can’t find the original), “I am telling the truth as it was supposed to have happened”. Others are purist to nth degree.
[Short side note: I think Kendall Haven is amazing, www.kendallhaven.com. He would never remember me, but early when I started on the road he encouraged me and I will never forget that. Amazing speaker. Intelligentsia of Storytelling. Read his book “Story Proof”.]
When I tell a personal story, I try hard to keep it to the truth….as I know it. If you ask my sister, my parents or my son if certain stories I tell are truthful, they will say “not always”. My sister says I exaggerate so much, she never knows the truth. [Remember she is my “baby” sister, and not always to be believed. J] However, upon further dissection, when I ask her about a story, she has some of the same elements, just told through different eyes.
The other side of that is, she (and the rest of my family) tell stories that I don’t remember at all. I have tried to plunge into my mind’s depths and I come up empty on their story. [Stop, don’t go there: I don’t have just emptiness in my mind’s depth.] Sometimes one of them will tell a story that they feel I should definitely know and I’m clueless. Does that make their story a fabrication? No, because what is important to one person is irrelevant, or so disturbing or embarrassing to be remembered. (I don’t have any embarrassing moments in my life…..at least that I remember.)
Let me be more specific. On my most recent CD I share my personal story about meeting children for the first time at an orphanage in Vietnam*. The story ends with a good feeling, because that is where I chose to end it. I didn’t end it at the point when my missions team colleagues found out that the children had been initially afraid of me, and they were distressed. I didn’t like that ending, there was too much explanation needed. Or I could have changed the ending to have a more “Kumbayah” moment. However, the ending I chose is just right (at least for me), not everything sewed up tight, but a satisfied smile.
The truth is not always flashy, it’s not always funny, it sometimes makes us look bad. However, that truth sharing could be just what someone else needs to learn. And if we really are struggling with how a story ends, well, go and listen to my friend, and one of storytelling heroes, Bil Lepp, and make your story the great tall tale. Only a “Half-Dollar” of truth needed in a tall tale. Enjoy my truthless (except maybe a few parts), “Malawian Hippo Love Story” http://youtu.be/Iz95311ZYp8
What are your thoughts on changing the end of your stories?
*Oh, and here is "Vietnam Missions Trip: Orphanage". Is it the right ending? http://youtu.be/I524NFKOqTE