Wednesday, July 26, 2006

PH: A Fairytale for the Storyteller

Assignment at a writer’s retreat: Write a story that shows the responsibility of the storyteller.

There is a farm where girls are given tools to dig for treasure. One girl named Chloella digs best with a spade while her sisters Ursula, Moonbeam, and Vonda use spoons. Chloella digs deep in search of treasure left behind by her ancestors. Ursula, Moonbeam, and Vonda are in a hurry to find coins scattered just beneath the dirt by careless travelers.

Vonda likes to walk up behind Chloella jingling her apron pockets so that Chloella can hear the coins she’s found so quickly. Chloella covers her ears and continues to dig until the ground’s red clay gives way and the black soil of her ancestors turns the tip of her spade as black as oil.

One day Vonda begins to mock Chloella, saying, “You’re wasting time while the rest of us become rich. Look I’m wearing a new dress and my hands are soft as infant’s skin. Your hands are weathered and have grown callus from the spade’s handle.”

“I like your dress,” says Chloella.

“You’re digging too deeply for treasure when all you have to do is scoop money right from the surface of the ground.”

“I can hear the faint sound of singing from the earth,” says Cholella, “and the black soil whispering. What does it mean?”

Vonda calls Moonbeam and Ursula to stare at foolish sister.

Chloella digs for years while her sisters settle for the leftovers of travelers. One day, the travelers find a new road that takes them on journeys past other farms.

Vonda, Moonbeam, and Ursula start fighting over their coins. The money is growing scarce. Moonbeam hears a distant tapping sound, like metal against iron. She looks, and, behold! Chloella is afar off, her spade swinging overhead.

“Let’s see if the fool has found any coins,” says Moonbeam.

The women gather around their sister.

“It is an old chest,” says Chloella.

“Treasure! Quick! Let’s drag it out and claim it for our own!” says Ursula.

Vonda, Ursula, and Moonbeam foolishly jump into the hole and are swallowed up into the earth’s belly and breathe their last breath.

Chloella cries for a bit. Then she turns to the black soil that is now her mountain. It is a fertile place that yields food for all of the traveler’s souls. Travelers flock to eat from the fertile place.

And that is the responsibility of the storyteller.

Patricia Hickman writes women’s fiction like her upcoming novel, Earthly Vows, Faith Words.


At 10:38 AM, Blogger Domino said...

I LOVE THIS! Great job. Well done. Excellent. Am I being redundant? or just appreciative...

At 4:13 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

wow!! what a thought provoking story. It makes you think

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Patricia Hickman said...

Thank you, Domino and Marsha. I was hoping this wouldn't be too "out there" for a blog. I got a new job today teaching writing at the local university. I think I'll try this exercise out on the students and see if it gets their creative juices flowing.

At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get it. If this looses me, does that mean I don't get allegory? A little bit of an explanation would be appreciated - for your slower readers. :)

At 3:40 PM, Blogger Patricia Hickman said...

Well, in allegory, the writer doesn't like to tell the reader what they're supposed to believe. Different readers can receive different benefit from allegory. Here is one way to look at this particular allegory, though:
Chloella is the writer who persists in reaching for the deeper craft--not worrying over marketplace, fame, etc. (scraping money from the "surface") The sisters represent either the writer or artist that pursues an artistic field because of either ambition or other fleshly goals.( or pre-conceived notions that are unrealistic,etc.) The writer who reaches for deeper craft stands a greater chance of leaving behind a legacy of literature (the mountain of fertile soil) that will feed the souls in generations to come. So one responsibility of the storyteller would be to write to help the reader become more thoughtful, or contemplative, to understand something today not understood yesterday--and other lofty goals. A book that spiritually impacts feeds the soul. And didn't Jesus tell us to feed His sheep? It would be interesting to know if other thoughts were gleaned from this allegory.

At 8:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, I see that now. Well, making a reader think you did! Hopefully the next allegory I come across won't throw me for a loop. Thanks! :)


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