By Natalie Davila
Brookhaven College School of the Arts humanities department organized Humanities Storytelling Series, where two local guest speakers, R. Jane Hardin and Donald Griswold, talked about their writing experiences April 11.
“We have the series in the Spring semester every year,” Ricky Reeves, humanities and music appreciation professor, said. “We have one in February and the second one in April.”
“I got my storytelling from my father,” Hardin said. Although she did not have the best relationship with her father, his own storytelling and childhood memories inspired Hardin to rewrite her father’s memories as a story.
Hardin said she believes having a sense of unfinished business should not be carried around.
Griswold, who published his first novel, “Dying Light,” in 2017, explained the hardest part of storytelling. “Communication is the hardest part,” Griswold said. “Getting two people on the same page is difficult to do.”
Both speakers emphasized the importance of connecting with readers. Griswold said: “When you can find someone that you connect with, it relieves that stress. It opens your life up. I’ll tell you that is why I do this.”Storytelling lets a reader know they are not alone by seeing the writer go through the same experience as them, Griswold said.
Storytelling not only involves writing, but performing as well. Hardin and Griswold said performing in front of an audience can be a cleansing experience. Writing about a personal, difficult experience can be very therapeutic to a writer, Griswold said.
Hardin emphasized the importance of keeping a story true. Authenticity is what sets a performer apart from others, Hardin said.
“Everyone can be a storyteller,” she said. “Anyone can impact not only their lives, but other lives as well.”
Hardin shared a story she called “Hell Hike,” about her personal experience hiking the Grand Canyon for three days with her husband.
Griswold shared “Big Cowboy On Fire,” a short story about his friend Theo who died.
Changing their voices throughout their stories helped bring the stories to life and their detailed descriptions made it easy to envision.
“The stories were really good and I like the style of writing they used for their stories,” Hannah King, a student, said.
Griswold said he likes to incorporate dialogue in his stories. “When you let the character speak, it becomes more real,” Griswold said.“They tell a more interesting story than the narrator.”
Maria Romero, a student, took notes during the event and said, “I’m actually wanting to write a book, and it was good to hear the speakers’ tips.”
The speakers said any type of writing takes time and has its own speed. Making sure the story has a great hook is a tip Hardin recommends to anyone who wants to write.
Griswold said that writers should just get the story out on paper. He said it is not about the finished product, but about getting the idea out.