Tuesday, October 20, 2015

An Introduction to Far From Home

How does one tell a story?

This is the question I am wrestling with today. Some tell their stories through artwork. Some through music. Some through a kind word or deed to a stranger. I tell my stories through written words. But even here there is much freedom and much challenge.

What is a story?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a story as "An account or recital of an event or a series of events, either true or fictitious." This is true in a literal sense. A story relates events. But why? What is the purpose (besides mere entertainment)?

Going back a little further, I found that the words "story" and "history" both come from the Greek word "historia--a learning or knowing by inquiry; an account of one's inquiries, history, record, narrative," (Online Etymology Dictionary). I like this. I like this because I love questions. So much that a friend once told me that I should write a book full of my questions, "an account of my inquiries."

A true story is an exploration of life from the depths of human imagination to the farthest reaches of the universe. It is not simply a telling of facts, but a challenge to the reader to see the world through new eyes. Through colored glasses. In doing so, the reader sees himself as in a mirror, his own worldviews, biases, dreams, fears, hopes, insecurities. And he is asked to respond to the question being put before him.

A Conversation

At the simplest level, a story is a conversation between the author and the reader. The author puts forward a thought, an idea, a question and the reader responds. But to stop there would be to ignore the ancient roots of story telling. To pen a story is to enter into an ongoing conversation going back thousands of years. I am only one voice among many.

One of the marks of a successful story is how it interacts with the stories of the past and present (to be sure, this is not limited to novels but extends to art of all forms and current events and science and, well, anything that relates to the human experience). This gives your story a context and helps the reader to see how your story relates to and helps to shape the bigger picture.

But I want to take this a step further. You see, the conversation does not stop at the reader. It continues between the readers and echoes into life, weaving through the millions of stories that will never be told. Stories that are just as important if not more than my own. And so my desire is not simply to share my tale, but to initiate a conversation in which you can participate. Your story matters.

Far From Home

"Far From Home" is my project--a series of stories about a search for a place called home. There's so much that goes into that idea of home: a desire to belong, a place of refuge, restoration of what is broken. Strands from the Gospel message interweave throughout this story as we set our eyes on Hope. But it is a journey, and sometimes it seems long and difficult. We all need encouragement along the way. My desire is that these stories will bring a spark of hope to those who read them.

I also want to challenge people to think about their own stories. Reading is a wonderful thing, but I have found that to truly understand something, you have to learn to express it in your own words and actions. What if the line between a novel and a journal were blurred? What if you were called on at the end of a story to respond in your own words?

As for what is ahead, all I can tell you is that this story starts with a young girl, Emily Grace, on the road to Nowhere. Where that road leads is yet to be discovered.

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