The stories contained within Warrior’s Tale have had a long gestation period. The first one, The Lost Boy was based upon a real-life experience – a day of revelation and pain while out walking with a friend at a time in my life where I felt depressed and lost. The story was written later that day and it came pouring out in a flow that surprised me. Even the main character (Warrior) popped into my head. More stories started to appear- often in dream-state and I would quickly write them down when I awoke. New characters appeared in my dreams and within the dreaming I was very aware that I was that central character- Warrior. As soon as I re-read each new story, I became aware that I had created many characters to stand in for me- to take the dark and dangerous journeys for me.
From the first story onwards, every new dream and subsequent story took place in the same location – Inverhuron Provincial Park on the shore of Lake Huron where my family had spent our family vacations camping. This in itself was very telling. I could see that my subconscious mind had chosen a ‘safe’ dreamscape to stage all of these stories within It was (and is) a landscape I know like the back of my hand and one that is rich in good memories. It is a location my heart and mind had chosen to experiment with, be safe within and a place I could grow out from.
The first few stories so moved me that I decided to perform them at poetry events and even at festivals. These stories that reached so deeply into my heart often making me cry, so obviously I could not read them in public, so I had talented friends do the reading while I accompanied them on my mountain dulcimer. It was pure bardic storytelling. As the story was read, I watched the audience’s reaction and noticed the closed eyes, tears on cheeks and the quite wholeness of the event. It was as if we had all – musician, storyteller, story, characters and audience entered into a consensual “story-time” – a place where the walls dissolved, time stopped and all that mattered was the experience of the story and the shared feelings.
Thus was born the idea of the “story-time”-- the structure that would tie all of my short stories together within a book.”Ah!” I thought, I would simply have the characters tell each other stories that were often about themselves. This in itself helped to create a dreamy depth to the stories. They were just not stories, but they had become stories within stories, each one presenting a new piece of wisdom, each one an archetypal adventure.
Now, I would be lying If I said that I wrote any of these stories for an audience, but I would also be lying if I said that I didn’t! I was very aware that the principal audience was me! In writing and then reading each of my stories I could see that I was placing myself (as other characters) in situations that were drawn from real life but in a safe landscape. The themes of fear, loss, friendship, adventure, curiosity, terror, awe, insanity, meaning and belonging all resonate loudly with so many people. So, like any of my other musical or artistic creations, because they are coming from my heart, they will appeal to an audience beyond me. But in the end, they are for me and each time I read my own stories I deepen my understanding of myself, and how I walk through this world.
Over the last ten years the more stories that arose from my sub-conscious via dreams, the easier I found it to just sit down with nothing but a feeling to focus on and just start writing with no idea of what would happen or which characters would be involved- except that I would place the action and the characters within the safe ‘psychic-container’ of that land-scape that I know so well. It was almost an act of getting out of my own way and I should not have been surprised as this is how I create when I paint or perform music. New characters kept appearing, ones with new skillsets, many of them looking like me but dressed differently. Characters based on people in my life started to appear – friends, my daughter etc and their stories and experiences began to interweave with my own. Each new story spilled out of me quickly – often within an hour and always resulted in a tearful catharsis. Every story, written and read, healed me and much to my delight healed others.
Of all the characters in my stories there is one who did not look like me and who I did not create- a lost shaman. He had appeared to a number of other people at events that I run, and I decided to include him in my own stories. He was the character that I chose to take the most dangerous voyages, to experience the greatest terrors and to battle with his own humanity, creativity and mortality. In the end he turned out to be the MOST like me and his journey of healing within the stories prompted and assisted my own healing journey. It was a case of ‘beware the stranger, for he will be you.”
As a healer, it occurred to me that my stories were yet another tool to be used and I see them for what they really are- medicine for the soul. I use them to heal others, to calm my own soul and to safely explore new ways of being. I even have friends who now write their own stories that cross over into mine and yes, they create their own healing. I am pleased that my characters can do their work within the story of another.
I love to write. I love to see where my characters will go. It is something akin to imaginary play – a safe place where I can encounter various aspects of myself, resolve issues and process feelings. The stories keep coming and I look forward to releasing a second and third volume.
You Are Not Alone: stories of hope, by Lisa Browning