The Power of Storytelling - day one

"Stories are our prayers. Write and edit them with due reverence. Stories are parables. Write and edit and tell yours with meaning. Stories are history. Write and edit and tell yours with accuracy and understanding and context and with unwavering devotion to the truth. Stories are music. Write and edit and tell yours with pace and rhythm and flow. Stories are our soul. Tell them as if they are all that matters."

Jacqui Banaszynski, who wrote those words, confessed today at The Power of Storytelling conference in Bucharest that after more than 30 years in journalism she still feels sometimes as if her stock of words was over. And that whenever she calls for her muse, the muse always reaches her after the deadline.

It seems like the struggle with writing will never be over. And, as Chris Jones said in a speech following that of Jacqui, most of the time you love writing but writing does not love you back.

As most of those who visit my blog already know, in my everyday life I am a doctor, I am seing patients, I am operating on patients. But when I go home, later in the evening or even at night, I sometimes take their stories with me and sometimes their stories are shouting at me demanding to be written. My stories and the stories of my friends compete in the same foolish demand to be spoken out to the universe, as if they knew that, once outthere, they could really help somebody else. And this is only one side of the moon. On the other side, fictional stories build themselves in my mind at an inconstant but troubling pace.

Throughout the time I constantly thought it was a priviledge to write and have an appetite for writing. Then, at some point of my life, writing hit me back violently as if I was not allowed to have my own voice. And then again it came back to me with passion, tenderness and dedication as if it eventually turned out into a divine gift.

I thought it was just me: ever changing, curious, joggling with ideas, tormented by the perspective of not being able to create one thing. Well, tonight at the conference, I saw those huge feature writers on stage - Jacqui Banaszynski, Chris Jones, Mike Sager - confessing that they too live into the same rarefied stratosphere of uncertainty and self confidence.

They did not leave us without any clues, though...

Jacqui tought us to pay attention and to remember that what we do matters. Stories might be specific and unique but their meaning is universal.

Chris said "clear eyes full heart can't lose" and he advised us to be kind. "Stop when you become a cynical, when you stop feeling, when you see only the bad parts of things". His advice works for writing but might as well work for everything else in life: jobs, hobbies, relationships.

Mike Sager reminded me of a precious idea I read for the first time in Karel Capek's writings: even the most malicious person in the world can feel sadness or vulnerability. Well, Mike told us that we should not be afraid to walk without judgement into someone else's shoes. There is no complexity about good and evil but real persons are complex characters. Whoever they are, they have a piece of both."There was something loveable even about Hitler: Eva Braun loved him".

In the second part of the evening, Starlee Kine talked about ideas and Travis Fox talked about freelance video journalism (that brought him an Emmy). I will be sharing with you my impressions about their speeches in a future episode.

Good night for now. Can't wait for the Power of Storytelling tomorrow!

Read more: The Power of Storytelling - day two.