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65. Understand Your Personal Myth

65. Understand Your Personal Myth

“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.” -Salman Rushdie

Artist, know thyself.

Salman Rushdie is a famous British Indian novelist and essayist best known for writing in the “magical realism” style. He achieved fame when he wrote Midnight’s Children (1981), a story about India’s transition from British colonialism and found himself at the center of controversy after his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, raised the hackles of many Muslims.

All of these things have had a dramatic effect over Mr. Rushdie’s work. Much like our own personal myths are the key drivers of the stories we tell. Stories do not spring fully formed from our imaginations. They are a consequence of all of our experiences, and they are fueled by the myth of our own lives. If you don’t understand that myth, if you can’t put words to it, it becomes difficult to find whatever core conceits drive your stories forward.

One of the most important things you can do as a storyteller is to reflect on where your stories come from. What assumptions, biases, prejudices or insights cause you to create your work? By doing this, you allow yourself to start thinking beyond the narrow walls of your experience and start to deconstruct your myth, changing it as you change and creating something new and better.

Oh yea, I should probably give you the usual warning. This is another one of those incredibly long clips, weighing in at just under an hour. Sit back, brew some Earl Grey and watch it – trust me on this one.

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