Stories We Tell

I've been spending a lot of time inside my head lately. Maybe you've noticed. Maybe you haven't. Sometimes I feel removed from my life in a way I can't really explain and sometimes I feel like everyone lives in my head with me in the computer. Not everyone, obviously, but people. Some people.

I feel affected lately in ways I don't usually feel. So books and films and music have been medicinal in a way. I'm looking for answers in places where I don't belong. 

So when Hal and sat down to watch Stories We Tell, with very little knowledge of what we were getting into, it was like standing on top of the answers without knowing it. 

It was like opening a door to a place that had always existed but was suddenly revealed. 

Ten years ago I wrote a novel called The Envelope. It was the last of three unpublished novels I wrote before I got pregnant with Archer, and in the beginning of the manuscript is this:

“Lies can only be embedded in truth. They have no separate existence… A good lie reveals more than truth can ever reveal. To the one, that is, that seeks truth.”

—Henry Miller, Sexus

The book was an homage to the truthful part of lies.

I wanted so badly to be a novelist but I wasn't there yet. I'm still not. Someday. But I believe that truth is complex and nuanced and far from factual. That the reason we love books and films and fantasies, the reason we want to write them and make them and dream them is that they act as guides for us, the writers and the readers. They help us find our way to the answers. Or better yet, remind us that there are none. 

There would be no story then. 

These words found themselves into my fingers the night Hal and I watched Stories We Tell so I wrote them down. And now I'm writing them down again, here, with the hope that they may trigger something in you. 

Or maybe I just need a place to put them. 

I don't want to publish any more books. Not now, anyway. 

But I do want to keep writing. 

Here, for now, but not forever. That was made very clear to me this week. There is an expiration date here. Which is a scary thought but also an exciting one. It's why I'm pushing myself in different directions behind the scenes, trying to reorganize my time to write about things outside my story so that I can realize some of the truth I seem to have misplaced. 

Because if I don't...

There would be no story then. 

In the beginning of Stories We Tell,  Sarah Polley's father reads a quote by Margaret Atwood. It says:

“When you are in the middle of a story it isn't a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness...  It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.”

This is why we write.

Like cleaning up a mess.

This is why we push on.

And reflect. 

And come to terms with our ridiculousness. 

By telling stories. 

Out loud or on paper, in songs and on screens. 

This is supposed to be a post about Stories We Tell and I have made it into Story I Am Telling because for better and for worse, that is what I do here. Because this film affected me deeply and made me want to share things I might otherwise have kept to myself. It made me feel grateful for the storytellers.

Whether we recognize it or not, we live for the stories. We wake up for the stories. We point our children in the direction of the stories.

"Bring back the moral," we say.

"Find the meaning and put in your heart."

These are the fables. 

We sit down every day with the hope that we can find them within ourselves and outside ourselves and somehow smash them together to make something that matters.


That's what connects us.  An honest story will always be a universal one, beloved, despised, universal. 

If she hadn't..? 

If he didn't..? 

If she wasn't...? 

If they weren't...?

There would be no story then. 


Thank you, Sarah Polley for sharing yours. 



amy jacobs | 7:20 PM

Rebecca...did you ever see this:

SOOOO good and the soundtrack is one of the best ever compiled!

Meg | 3:44 AM

I am so excited the movie is actually out soon!

(I've only seen her on the third season of Slings & Arrows, along with her dad, and she was absolutely amazing.)