“She’ll sup sorrow with the spoon of grief.” What a line! When it popped up tonight, I grabbed my pen and jotted it down. It was spoken by one woman to another on a bus and overheard by Marianne McShane, a storyteller. I have her card in front of me right now, and that’s exactly the title listed on it: Storyteller. Isn’t that grand? And what a gifted storyteller she is!
I had the pleasure of hearing her tell three wonderful tales: a fairytale, a folktale, and a myth. Her voice was soft and soothing, the words she spoke had a lyrical lilt to them, and the images she painted with her words had an audience of about 100 people spellbound (MarianneMcshane.com)
What is it about hearing stories read aloud or recited that is so entrancing? It must have something to do with the words washing over you in a wave of meaning that’s processed not visually by the mind’s eye, but through the ear and the sense of hearing. Perhaps like musical notes, when words are spoken instead of read silently, they are absorbed more directly and have more emotional impact.
However it works, to listen to a lovely voice murmur poetically rhythmic language is just such a lovely, emotionally satisfying experience. It reminds me once again how important it is for us to read our work aloud so we can hear how it sounds as it echoes through the mind. There are so many advantages to this simple but powerful strategy: We instantly hear awkward wording, repetition, lackluster prose, and poorly connected phrases and sentences. Once we’ve flagged these errors, we can fix them. But without hearing them, it’s easy for them to slip by. So let’s remember that like Marianne, we’re all storytellers. And let’s tell the very best stories we can. Write on!