We Are the Stories We Tell Ourselves

a tree in late autumn by Egon Schiele
This is me standing on my screenplay. Or my screenplay standing on me.

I’m going back to the beginning. It’s such a difference to understand what makes a story matter and to create a story that matters. I’m in the dark spot of a long term relationship – the part where I don’t like you and I want to be by myself but I still have to love you. “You” being my blasted screenplay. I’m committed for the long haul. That’s the only way. I’m starting to get what my most recent readers have been saying: make us uncomfortable, dig deep, where’s the sex, there is an entire river of emotion running underneath every thing Courcelle does but…I could go on.

So story. We all tell them. You can garner a lot about what is important to someone by the stories they choose to share.

Exaggerate the essential and leave the obvious vague.
-Vincent van Gogh

I was touched last night by the film of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs. How adept he was at making me laugh and care. The plight of teenage Eugene navigating his crowded Brooklyn household is situated into the larger world of an impending WWII and the Holocaust. All the stories play as equally real and compelling. And the wallpaper! Ahh, the 1940s – before America abandoned aesthetics.

Take in this TED talk by the filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, so ruminatively entitled “We Are the Stories We Tell Ourselves.” He gets it and can do it. No easy task.

When One Is So Far from Home, Life Is a Mix of Fact and Fiction

No one should hold that against you.
It’s a means of survival.
Sometimes I thought my best talent was
taking a skinny story, adding wings and a tail.
Dressing it in a woolen Bedouin cloak
with stitching around the edges.
Putting a headdress on it.
Making a better picture.
Your mother got mad at me sometimes
for telling a story differently but it wan’t a lie,
just a story in different clothes
with other things emphasized.
My own mother dressed up stories for 106 years
till that last winter she rode in her bed
like a boat, sitting up to sleep.
Maybe it’s our duty to be shaped
a hundred times by the same stories.
We think we’re telling them
but really they’re keeping us alive,
memory oxygen breathed out and in.

– Naomi Shihab Nye

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About Nicole M.K. Eiden

I'm a New Orleans filmmaker.
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