The Power of Telling Stories By, For, and About Women

I am a storyteller. At six years old I told stories that took my character deep into a cave where she discovered walls of colorful jewels and cavernous rooms filled with weird creatures. 

Naturalism I learned for my many documentaries where the strong-of-stomach can be sure they will feel sad and enraged after even the shortest look. I wrote about the condition of women in the world. It required many breaks to slam my head into my desk and try to deflect the pain from my soul to the red hematoma I had developed.

In between the years of writing docs-to-order, meaning the subject matter was dictated by who would see it, I wrote plays which were freeing because I chose the topics, the characters, the storyline. But if you’ve ever worked with actors or directors, you know that actors don’t always say the words on the page. Directors are sometimes clueless about the playwright’s intention.

Finally it lead me to write a book.

The Road Not Taken started out as a story about a woman who finds she has a twin sister, and then kills her. As it progressed, it became a journey through Space/Time, living and dying but still being alive, Egyptian mythology, the history of Weimar Germany and many other seemingly disparate elements: The story of the girls in Nigeria captured by Boko Haram and the huge indifference that caused in the world, the importance of having a human spirit, the problem of whether planet Earth is worth the energy it burns in the universe.

Here is my most honest and I hope, most intriguing story of all. It is not about me, though the locations are often landmarks in my life: the West Village, the inside of Van Gogh’s bedroom at Arles where I finally achieved my lifelong wish to visit the painter but couldn’t find a way into the canvas. Until I wrote my way in. The corner of Bleecker and 6th where I went to school, songs we played on 45’s, sex and the finer points of enjoying it. These were part of my real life but told through the voice of a woman who has at the beginning, no idea why she is alive. I always knew.

Stories are the most important tools we have. The Bible, which I find largely reprehensible with its efforts to curb women’s curiosity to a “how to” on raising two children, favoring one so much they both end up dead. The New Testament isn’t much nicer – it has been used to train people to think some of the most disastrous lies ever. But as a book of stories, it can’t be topped for its influence. 

I do what I can to tell different stories. 

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