Stories. By Hand. By Mouth.
I’ll never forget the day I figured out how to get an “A” every time. In English at least. I was a Senior, and as part of our Advanced Placement class, we had to write an essay every Friday on a given topic. It was shitty and we hated it. Imagine that’s how you end your week every week? But we did it, and now I’m grateful to Mrs. Boyce because I can write a 5-paragraph essay in my sleep. When I figured out if you include the word “alienation” in the essay you automatically get an “A” the rest of my high school (and college) writing classes were a breeze. As was the formula for the 5-paragraph essay. Introductory paragraph, followed by three paragraphs supporting the thesis, and a clever conclusion.
Embarrassingly today I still write most of my blogs using this format. I present an idea, then spend the rest of the time offering supporting material, then attempt a clever closer that brings you back for more. Hey, if a formula works. Sometimes I have a hard time finding a topic to fit within the framework and so the edges of the formula might bleed a bit, but for the most part the 5-paragraph idea is there. In theory at least.
I read an article in Elle magazine recently about the writer Alessandra Torre who became a superstar by self-publishing women’s erotica on Amazon. She’ll publish a book every six weeks or so, speed-typing the plot and when she comes to a sex scene she’ll type something like “THREESOME FORMULA” and later she’ll go back in and plop down formulas for these scenes she keeps filed away. Mad Libs for the horny soccer mom? Quite a formula.
Why so many words about formulas? Because lately I’ve been getting bored with my own. Not the topics, God no, there’s enough stories around here to keep me typing until end of days. No it’s the written formula I want to break away from.
Which is why I started a podcast. As of February 27, 2015, you’ll find me telling stories with my voice instead of my words. At Edacious — Food Talk for Gluttons, every other Friday I’ll tell stories, then offer up interviews with food folks in our region. All of whom have stories of their own. In addition, we’ll broach a food topic and discuss it in depth, hopefully starting a conversation that continues above and beyond the podcast.
Why? Not to get too hippie-fied but every time I turn around the signs point to me doing this. Someone telling me I have a good voice. My own intense love for Maron’s podcast and This American Life. The fun I had being interviewed for two different podcasts in the past. The clincher was Jack Hitt’s book, “Off the Road” about his adventures while walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. He mentions the medieval epic poem the Chanson de Roland and the oral tradition of poets during that time. Most people assume these “singer of tales” memorized the entire story, but no. They memorized phrases, or “formulae” (there’s that word again), consisting of scenes, names, events, and dates they interplayed so each retelling was unique. No one telling of the poem or story was ever the same.
This fascinated me. Stories by mouth rather than written formula. Sure there are certain phrases I’ll use during a vocal, spoken podcast, certain names and dates and events. But I bet the telling is always unique. No podcast will adhere as tightly to the 5-paragraphs. No retelling will ever be the same. I feel real honesty in that. And I want to try it out.
I’ll still blog. But I want to branch out. I don’t want to say I never tried. I want to live my life as a learner, an experience gatherer. This will be a new, hopefully exciting experience and journey. Please join me. I’ll do my best to provide you with enlightening, entertaining podcasts and as always I welcome your feedback. You can subscribe on the home page or through iTunes on your phone or iPad. Thanks again. Cheers.