Why Do Story Tellers Write?

by Aly Hazlewood on July 12, 2017


Why do story tellers write? Why do they expose their soft, vulnerable underbelly to a sometimes scornful, sometimes indifferent audience?

I write because often I cannot contain everything I see, hear and feel, such is the intensity of my bittersweet and painstakingly beautiful lived experience. It has been this way since I was very small. I remember the overwhelm of seeing – well beyond my years – what others did not seem to see, or hearing what they didn’t seem to hear between the spaces of unspoken words. And being a rather lonesome, only child, there was no-one else I could cross check my depth perceptions with. Writing gave voice to the voiceless part in me.

Feeling so much, navigating this stream of perpetual input, felt very risky to my child-self; especially at a time when I did not have the boundaries, skills or life experience to verbalise the intensity. I often longed for it to stop, or at least to be able to grow a thick, waxy skin, so that much of it could not permeate all the way through. Alas, my protective covering remained gossamer thin.

It’s quite painful to see things as they really are. It is why people get addicted to distraction.

Later, after my parent’s painfully destructive divorce, I, apparently unable or unwilling to summon the energy to avoid being seen as weird or different, or to fit in better with others, instead sought refuge in the yellowing pages of library books, in stories, myth and ideas. Words seemed so beautiful; discovering their meaning and roots so endlessly fascinating.. I became insatiable for the written word.

Martha Graham writes, “It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

And open it I did.

Creativity of any kind became an outlet for what is rather dismissively referred to as ‘the feels’. To this day, I settle into stillness, open the floodgates and the words cascade forth …or the art, the pottery, drumming, crafting, vegetable growing.

Creativity provides a tangible opportunity to see the purpose in being highly sensitive and perceptively gifted. For it is a gift, albeit one that I spent the best part of my life wishing I could ‘return to sender’. Where was that damn off switch?

I write to find meaning in my losses, in the dirty, the sad, in the failures and pain, and to give colour and texture to the lived moments of incredible beauty, compassion, humour and grace. But I’m also struck by the mournful realisation that I write my stories because the liminal spaces where humans used to gather to speak and sing their stories; to weave collective meaning, to cross thresholds, are no longer available. There are times when telling our story saves our life, and sometimes even the life of another. So it is a tragedy that we have lost this birthright.

Oftentimes, highly sensitive people (HSP) reveal things most other people find inconvenient to hear or see, triggering off conscious or unconscious behaviours that aim to belittle or undermine. Insightful qualities can so easily be labelled pathological or neurotic to those less connected to life. One only has to look at the 60,000 witches burned throughout Europe alone to recognise the level of threat that is provoked by difference.

It is more important than ever to keep the channel open, and creativity is a powerful drain cleaner. We cannot allow the channel to be clogged with emotional debris, causing the clear waters of our truth to stagnate and stink.

Since I say this often, Ill say it again. You are not ‘too much’. Sensitivity gets a bad rap, it is not weakness, you are not flawed. Imagine a world without poets, dreamers, philosophers, artists, creators, musicians and therapists; so often the most sensitive among us. These are troubled times. We need the contribution of sensitive hearts and minds.

HSP’s were invited to accept the gift of being deliciously alive, to be open channels to Spirit. And one thing seems certain. We will not die an unlived life. Radical receptivity is our sacred offering. So if it all feels too much, perhaps pick up a pen, write the story, give it life, set it free.







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