Experimentation. To test an idea. From the Latin experimentum, it sounds like a Harry Potter spell in the Latin form. Today I wonder if I might need a wand as I try out this idea. For today, I’m trying a new way of telling a story.
Stories. I tell them all the time, every day, in many ways, shapes and forms. A lyric from Weddings, Parties, Anything reverberates in my brain: Tell me a story and make no omissions, as I’m all ears. Chapter and verse, the whole damn edition. On Twitter I tell stories in 140 characters, a microcosm of a full story. It’s the tease of a story, a fragment, not the full picture, just the hint of what might be to come if you know me in person. On Facebook, I tell my stories most often with photos, uploading images that stitch together a panoramic. In person, I tell many stories, words tumble over each other as I create a plotline about my life, turning it into a series of escapades. I try to entertain, to convince, to encourage, to calm, to soothe, to share. Stories intermingle with images, images intermingle with music, music intermingles with lyrics- all is a story, a tapestry of voice, song, movement.
In my academic work I have told stories in conventional ways. Papers are formed in conventional structure. Read and you will find an introduction, a theoretical framework, a literature review, a method, data, discussion. I wrestle the words into sections and they form the jigsaw puzzle of conventional academic writing. Today I opened a file. A half-written paper loomed up at me and I quickly scanned it to see where I was up to. I was struck by a line in the data and was cast back to the interview I’d held with the teacher. Suddenly, I was transported back in time to a small room. The image became stronger.
The paper before me seemed lifeless, a shallow representation of the ideas she and other teachers had talked about. Their story was more important than this shell I had before me.
I scrolled and clicked. Opening a new file a blank white page appeared. I began to write. In writing, I was transported back, captured by the spell of the story. I tapped into the mainline of their voices and tried to stitch them together. There are no conventional sections to this paper. There is a narrative. A story that explains a big idea. I’m not sure it works. I’m not sure whether it’s ‘right’. Is this how a narrative piece should look? I wonder this as I type, and yet, the words keep coming.
I’m casting the experimentum spell and letting the story take me to a place of discovery. I’ll let you know when I get to the destination.