No Such Thing as a True Story

moleskine

I’ve always loved telling stories. In elementary school I got the best storyteller award and made my dad proud. I’ve worked diligently to refine my craft since then. My wife usually grows impatient of a story I’m telling in social settings because I take the time to meticulously setup the details—and the tension—for where I’m ultimately taking it. It’s an art really (and apparently somewhat of an acquired taste).

In his book Trying to Save Piggy Sneed, John Irving points out an important element of storytelling:

This is a memoir, but please understand that (to any writer with a good imagination) all memoirs are false… we can always imagine a better detail than the one we can remember. The correct detail is rarely, exactly, what happened, or what should have.

I heartily agree and I’ve written along these lines in describing the role of an artist. I’m often accused of telling “my version” of a story with the implication that “my version” doesn’t always align with the straight facts. That’s why it’s been so fun to preach at Central. I get to tell the real version of the stories my dad has been telling for years!

I’ve even had some of my family members (who will remain anonymous as a result of my overflowing love) try and unofficially ban some of my stories. You know, like the one where I was disciplined as a kid with that thing that holds your pants up, or that time I threw up on the side of the road and didn’t receive a lot of compassion…

I won’t name any specifics.

I know that someday one of my kids will take a liking to storytelling and I’ll hear all sorts of versions of stories told back to me in ways I don’t remember them. But that’s the beauty of life.

If you are the person constantly complaining about the storytellers in your life, let it go. They just have a more imaginative memory than you do. And if you are the storyteller, then keep weaving your beautiful commentary through the mundane experiences of the everyday.

Okay, so I’ll admit the last couple of sentences were a bit biased.

There’s no such thing as a true story. Let go of science and enjoy the art of good storytelling (ironically, science has actually proven that the more we retell stories the more we change the way that we remember them, and thus the story itself). There’s always more than meets the eye. The joy of storytelling is that, to quote Irving, you get to tell life as it “should have” happened.

Have you heard any good stories lately?

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan husband, father, executive pastor, and student of truth

8 Comments

Matt

about 1 year ago

I wholeheartedly agree!... and suggest we start a support group for storytelling-husbands who are shunned by practical wives who fail to appreciate an aptly spun yarn.

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jeremy

about 1 year ago

Well said! Where do I sign up?

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Brianne

about 1 year ago

What about doing specific things in order to get a story... Dentist? Drill? Wisdom Teeth. HILARIOUS....

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jeremy

about 1 year ago

No comment...

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Michellej

about 1 year ago

Matt's response makes me laugh...Matt should try preaching because no one can interpret you then!

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jeremy

about 1 year ago

Having the storyteller as the only person with a mic is a beautiful thing!

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Dan King

about 1 year ago

Jeremy, I used to get all your blog posts via email, but when you switched to mail chimp I stopped getting them. I just found one in the junk mail folder and marked it as safe. If I experienced this, it's probably possible that others might not be receiving your emails anymore since you changed to mail chimp.

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steve

about 1 year ago

I sometimes don't remember a detail with perfect clarity so the stories will fluctuate a little with an imbellishment from me here and there,( i willingly admit that ) but regardless of how often i tell it the gist of it will remain the same.The truth and the congruency or the conveyance of the moral has got to be of paramount importance other wise there is no point in telling the story - the dramatic flare won't take you too far in the long run.

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