Notes from Lori Bedell (RCL 2)

–The following post is from fellow RCL II instructor Lori Bedell–

At the heart of most “This I Believe” essays is STORY. As humans, we are storytelling animals. We love to tell them, hear them, learn lessons from them.

As you work to decide your subject, think about the stories you like to tell about your life or memories that are vivid and come to mind often. Why are they so compelling to you? Is there a lesson folded up in it somewhere? Did you define yourself as an individual more clearly because of something that happened? Were your values shaped in a particular way? Your mind changed?

Storytelling has historical resonance–it’s how the past and the associated cultural values were shared–and provides personal validity. Think of the way people will share events of their lives to find relevance in larger cultural contexts; to get connected. Storytelling also has the power to say more than “first this happened, then this….” Stories are loaded with places for the audience to infer, for the author to imply, for a richer idea to be shared. They’re bigger than the facts of the case.

The other really important piece of this is helping the audience see/hear the belief emerging from the story, so that when you state your belief, and we hear it alongside the story, we are provided a satisfying, 1+1=3 moment. The sum becomes “3” because what you say is enriching beyond the obvious. You make us think and perhaps allow us to see the world a bit differently or maybe even feel connected to you because we know EXACTLY what you mean.

The Real Consequences of Justice

Not knowing where to begin or what to write about is the bane of every writer. Sometimes starting with a prompt is a nice way to get the juices flowing:

Brainstorming from “Place” – loosely defined:

Where I’m from….

Brainstorming with “Time.”

In fragments, poetry, prose, dialogue, snatches of songs, remember something from:

Last summer…
When you were 18…
When you were 14…
When you were 7…
Your first memory…
A given memory (something people tell you about yourself)…

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