Brand building through storytelling

Insights found while reading

Every life is a story, which is why I’m drawn to biography and memoir. In the dramas that someone actually lived, I find insights I can use in my own helter-skelter life, where the lines of the narrative tend to blur for months or even years at a time, in the busyness of getting things done. I read other people’s bons motswith pen in hand, underlining passages to contemplate later. “Yes, that’s it!” I will think to myself. Or “Now, that’s a surprising perspective. Should I give it a go?” Or “This might come in useful someday. But please, not yet.” Here, a few discoveries from the books on my bedside table:

On breaking the rules: “You can do anything you like if you are willing to pay the full price for it.”—Martha Gellhorn (war reporter, fiction writer, world traveler, human rights activist, ex-wife of Ernest Hemingway and ever-restless serial monogamist), in Gellhorn: a TwentiethCentury Life by Caroline Moorhead.

On sex: “When I make love I take my whole life in my hands, the damage and the ride, the bad memories and the good, all that I am or might be, and I do indeed love myself, can indeed do any damn thing I please. I know the place where courage and desire come together, where pride and joy push lust through the bloodstream, right to the heart.”—Dorothy Allison, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure.

On a writer’s childhood: “…what I suffered from most painfully was unrequited vivacity: I wanted to be merry and lively, and the leaden spirit of those sour-spirited Scottish kids, whose vivacity expressed itself in torturing animals and jeering at the crippled (the town boasted a notable dwarf who hanged himself eventually, so jolly had life been made for him)…Ooooooh, how Canada marks us, and mars us, and maims us.”—Robertson Davies, in Robertson Davies: a Portrait in Mosaic by Val Ross.

On the dangers of comparing oneself to others (advice to dancers in a master class, but relevant to all creative work): “There will always ben a dancer who turns more times than you, whose leg goes higher, jumps better—prettier, thinner, something. But no one has what you have—your eyes, your neck, how you carry yourself. So you’d better start liking that, and showing it.”—Suzanne Farrell, retired ballerina and ballet teacher, in Twenty-eight artists and Two Saints: Essays by Joan Acocella.

On the lonely work of dying young: It says a lot about the power of denial that I could so automatically seek (and find!) the silver lining that might come with dying of cancer at forty-three. For good and ill, I no longer think that way. The passage of time has brought me the unlikely ability to work, simultaneously, at facing my death and loving my life.”—journalist Marjorie Williams in her posthumous collection The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politcs, Family and Fate.

Posted by Rona

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