I haven’t been blogging a lot over the past year, having been short of those precious commodities of time and focus. But, I challenged that over the past month, signing up and participating in the internationally acclaimed Story Skills Workshop offered through Seth Godin’s Akimbo platform. Here, activists and artists, entrepreneurs, educators, makers, marketers, scientists, scholars, and creatives from all over the world come together to build their writing skills and discover how they can make a difference by telling better stories.
Having gone through 5 weeks of hard work finding the right words and leaning into many discomforts, you would think I could come up with better outcomes/cliches than ‘life changing’ and ‘transformative’ to describe this experience. But there it is. I have been changed.
The platform includes lessons, prompts and practices, but the greater learning came from the sharing of feedback and live Q & A calls where we talked about our challenges, fears, hopes and dreams, etc. with whomever would show up from the 200+ participants.
‘Showing up’ was important to me so I was one of the die-hards that was always on the calls and commented on other peoples’ work.
I wanted to be more than just a name and have the opportunity to make a contribution that would be both welcomed and reciprocated. Thinking about this now, I see that I was actually leaning into a challenge I’m facing around this in my new home/business town.
One of the biggest “wow’s” for me was the power of some of the tools provided. I’ve been a writer for a long time but to discover things like the “5 C’s Story Outline” I’m sharing here was indeed transformative. For some inexplicable reason, as I started to work with it, a book load of stories started to pour out of me. One was deeply personal, a story I’ve had going on in my head for a long time.
I’m not quite ready to share that one yet, but the piece below is something I wrote simply for the beauty of it.
I would love to hear your feedback as you read the story, considering the 5 Cs. What speaks to you? Share in the comments please!
Context – Introduction to the hero’s world
The insistent yelp of my York-poodle has interrupted my refuge in the green house, where I am escaping more and more in this second season of isolation. I step carefully out onto hard ground, crystals of frost crunching the grass that has grown brown with age after the long dark of winter. My open-toed slip-ons are no match for this early spring morning. I wasn’t intending to be outside for long. Had instead planned a quiet, blissful morning with my hands in the dirt planting seeds, listening to classical music and cozying up beside the warmth of the fake fireplace.
The dog’s bark intensifies and I’m cursing my poor choice of footwear as I try to move more quickly. I steady myself with my phone in one hand and coffee cup in the other as I come around the bend, where I can see the dog just below me on the edge of the still frozen river.
Catalyst – Something changes in the hero’s world
And there it is. A large solitary wolf. Straight ahead. The morning light across the frozen bay casts a gentle glow over this wild carnivore, the largest member of the dog family. While he stands perfectly still, I imagine he is unimpressed with one of the smallest ferociously standing his ground.
I have never seen a wolf this close. Or this big.
Complication – The hero is faced with a problem and a choice
Its eyes flicker down at its cousin and back up at me. My first instinct is to revel in its beauty, my second is to scream for the pet to retreat and for my partner to come to our rescue. Neither get the response I’d hoped for.
I have a moment to consider that my curiosity is sitting one octave higher than my fear.
The wolf holds steady, focused on the two of us. I wonder if it is getting ready to pounce at the noisy irritating pest. I am not sure what I will do if it does.
Change – The hero decides on a path and a plan to overcome the obstacle
Despite not knowing what’s going to happen next, I decide to hold my ground. I’m pretty sure the bigger mammal isn’t interested in me. The dog finally withdraws up the hill toward me, oblivious or so it seems, though he did retreat. My eyes are still locked on the unexpected visitor. I brace myself not sure of who will move first but I sense he is bored with the two of us, who are possibly not worth the trouble.
Consequence – The hero’s character, fate, world and worldview are altered
I back my way into the cabin where I heave deep breaths. My partner, who owns a gun, slips outside and follows the predator with his camera instead. He sees the look in my eyes as he passes. “You had it under control,” he shrugs. His smile tells me he was impressed.
That matters. I am afraid of many things in life. Some (like a wolf on my dock perhaps) I should be, but so much I shouldn’t. This was a big deal.
The lone wolf wasn’t alone after all, they seldom are. Two smaller family members appear. The game is over, and they saunter slowly out of the bay and onto the river. The ice is thin, and this is likely their last chance to cross.
I will replay this moment and that beast will get bigger and bigger every time I do. I’ll curse myself for not snapping any photos with the phone I held in my hand but my chest will expand with pride. I see myself taller and stronger.
I stood my ground despite all the uncertainties.
And damn, that was a beautiful moment.