Telling Stories at a Bonfire without Any Companions

Photo by Amit Thakare from Pexels

The outcast, deep thinker, and storyteller, Thomas Builds-the-Fire, doesn’t stop sharing his stories even when no one listens to him and everyone rejects him in Sherman Alexie’s short story “This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona”.

He says:

“We are all given one thing by which our lives are measured, one determination. Mine are the stories which can change or not change the world. It doesn’t matter which stories as long as I continue to tell the stories.”

In addition to storytelling, Thomas has the gifts of seeing visions, receiving messages about the future, and knowing what people are thinking.

One of the problems with Thomas’s storytelling is that he’s been retelling the stories for so long that his community becomes tired of hearing them, but one begins to wonder: are people actually listening to them, taking in their messages?

At one point during the short story, Thomas asks his former friend, Victor, for a favor that seems really simple, but which will take a lot of effort and courage: Can Victor listen to just one of his stories in the future? This is hard to do considering that anyone who associates with Thomas is frowned upon.

In connection to my rookie short story writing skills, I’ve been writing stories because I felt inspired to write them, and, sometimes, I kind of feel like Thomas receiving his stories. I don’t hear a voice tell me the stories word for word, but the stories form without effort.

This is what it feels like to be a storyteller, to feel the call to write from within, to feel a spark of inspiration, to let stories form on their own terms.

Do you ever wonder about the impact your words have on the world? According to Thomas, writers must use their gifts to share stories even when no one seems to be listening. You may never know the full extent of the impact of your words. In the end, you show up to the task of writing, the only thing you’re fully in control of as the storyteller, as the writer.

4 thoughts on “Telling Stories at a Bonfire without Any Companions

  1. Hmmm… Yes, I do wonder how people view the things I say. I think we all like it when people say they like our stories. Sometimes they give us criticism so we can better our craft. But other times our words do fall on deaf ears. Like you said – unfortunately, we can only control the story, not how others hear it.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, indeed. Good memory you have there.
        It happened to me more than once recently that I was writing a post and I had these thoughts regarding people’s understanding of said post. I felt the need to stop and explain that I did not mean one thing, while I did mean another. I’m actually torn about this, because on one hand I want people to understand where I’m coming from, but at the same time, I don’t want to have to explain what I did not mean.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s very true. I think for me as I continue to posts more blog posts, I also sometimes find myself thinking I need provide a bit more explanation/context. In a way, I think it’s helps me improve my writing, but then again it can be more time consuming thinking how to rephrase things/add more detail.

        Liked by 1 person

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