Insulating blanket




Last night, I went with friends to hear the author Lynn Coady speak.  I remember reading her book Strange Heaven just after university and not realizing just how impressive it was for her to have written a novel, especially a really good one,  at 23.  As a young adult I was under the illusion that writing novels, like learning to ride helicopters and becoming multi-lingual, was only a matter of time, a skill one would just naturally grow into being able to do as one grew.  Now that I have walked down two or three paths and not gone down untold millions of others, and have accepted defeat in many areas, I see with clearer eyes just what an achievement becoming a published writer is (and that no one should ever give me a helicopter license).

I was delighted to hear her tell her stories about her work. She spoke about how a writer's version of a story might touch on a truth that is not factually true, but is more true than any fact ever could be. Storytellers also can choose to tell stories in such a way that can be an "insulating blanket" from the real truth to forge a bond with the listener, or to calm someone down or to distance ourselves from the reader or the hearer.

I reflected on the stories I tell in the run of a day. I regale* people at work with the story of how an early morning power outage drastically complicated my morning routine. I mentally order the story of a disaster filled travel story before I launch into it over lunch. I hold onto the one about the neighbour sawing up the couch in the street just as the guests were arriving for the baby shower for when everyone is sitting comfortably with a drink in their hand. I insulate myself(I have something to tell) and others (comfortable knowing that they are not as out of control as some other people they could mention).  However, insulation is needed some times. After all insulating blankets can some times contain electric coils of red hot truth.


*regale(v.)-to entertain lavishly

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