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Hello friends!

Long time, no speak! It's been busy in my corner of the world. I'm preparing to launch a new business with some partners related to storytelling, and I've been hard at work recording the audio for my next book, "Someday Is Today: 22 Simple, Actionable Ways to Propel Your Creative Life."

Available now for preorder wherever you get books.

May I recommend Indiebound? Or just pop into your favorite, local bookshop. My local favorites include RJ Julia in Madison, CT, An Unlikely Story in Plainville, MA, and Northshire in Manchester Center, VT amongst many, many others. 

But with the recording almost finished and the business moving into a new phase, I'm starting to see some daylight, so back to newsletters, podcasts and more. 

This week I found myself thinking about the tragedy of the cheetah.

The tragedy of the cheetah is that it doesn’t even know that it’s the fastest land animal.

It’s champion of the world, yet it has no way of ever knowing it.

I hate that. It’s odd, but I really do.

It’s similar, at least in my mind, to Lincoln not living to see the reunification of the country or Roosevelt not living to see the end of World War II.

It’s not unlike all the writers – Kafka, Plath, Thoreau, Dickinson, Poe, Hurston, Melville, and so many more – who never knew fame or even recognition while alive.

Not unlike artists like Van Gogh and Monet, scientists like Galileo and Mendel, and musicians like Bach and Redding, whose names were unknown to the world during their lifetimes but are giants of their craft today.

It’s also not unlike my mother, who died before meeting my children, reading any of my books, or ever seeing me perform onstage.

That last one just occurred to me. I knew that my mother had died before ever seeing any of these things, but I hadn’t connected her death to my thoughts on the cheetah until just now.

Except it probably didn’t just occur to me. It was probably the reason why I lamented the plight of the cheetah in the first place. Our first thoughts – those that hover on the surface of our mind – are quite often our least important thoughts. They are the thoughts that conceal the truth so well.

Revelations like this – the inability of the cheetah to know its greatness is akin to my mother never seeing what became of her son – happen so many times for those of us fortunate enough to write and speak and tell stories about our lives on a daily basis. The reasons we do anything are often not the reasons we think we are doing anything. It’s only through the thought, contemplation, puzzling, and connections made while writing and speaking that we are able to plumb the depths of our lives and see our true selves.

I started writing this a few minutes ago, thinking I’d write something amusing about the cheetah and move on.

Then I realized that the cheetah’s plight is not unlike the plights of so many others – artists, writers, scientists, and more.

Then I realized that I had been drawn to the cheetah’s plight because of the heartache I constantly feel about my mother.

This is why I write. We write to discover what I’m really thinking and feeling.

It’s why you should write, too.

THIS WEEK'S LESSON

Here's a way to grab an audience's attention:

Say the suspenseful thing first. 

In a story I'm working on for next week, I plan to begin with a line like, "The scissors hidden in my lap are sharp. Sharper than I expected. Now I wait for the teacher to turn his back so I can use them."

The most suspenseful object in the scene - and perhaps the story - is the pair of scissors, so I lead with them to create wonder, suspense, and even worry.

Why are you hiding scissors in your lap? 
What do you plan on doing once the teacher turns his back?
Why are they so sharp?

The scissors play a very minor role in the story, but I lead with them to grab the audience's attention. I force my audience to wonder what will happen next. String enough "I wonder what will happen next" moments together and you've got yourself a story. 

Looking to learn more about storytelling through something more than a weekly email lesson?

Try my book on storytelling:

Storyworthy Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling

Available in paperback, Kindle, and audio, which I narrate myself!

PERFORMANCES AND WORKSHOPS 2022
  • April 4: The Moth StorySLAM at The Bell House, NYC
  • April 7: Book talk at the Newington Library, Newington, CT
  • April 12: Moth StorySLAM at Cityspace, Boston, MA
  • April 13: The Marathon Center of Performing Arts in Findley, Ohio
  • April 16: TEDxCornell at Cornell University, Cornell, NY
  • April 26: Moth GrandSLAM at The WIlbur in Boston, MA
  • May 10: Book talk at the Oxford Library, Oxford, CT
  • June 23: Risk! at Caveat, NYC
  • July 13 (July 14 rain date): Speak Up at The Hill-stead in Farmington, CT
  • July 14-17: Storytelling weekend workshop at The Mount, Lenox, MA
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MatthewDicks · 52 Francis Drive · Newington, Connecticut 06111 · USA