The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, July 25, 2017:


A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.

Alice Munro, 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate, SELECTED STORIES



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For Friday, February 3, 2017:


According to Genesis, the world begins with a word.  Speech gives way to substance and forms every living thing.  I wonder if this was the first time God spoke.  And I wonder if God began to create because God longed to hear her own voice, to see it take form and flesh in the unfolding of the world.

Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust and … spent the rest of his life turning its horrors into stories, says that God created people because God loves stories.  We are the vessels of God’s voice, her words blowing through us, bidding us to tell the tales that only we can speak.


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[I was thinking about this very thing a day or two ago, so a friend’s Facebook post today was most timely.  Thanks, Cynthia!]

For Tuesday, January 17, 2017:


If you don’t recount your family history, it will be lost.  Honor your own stories and tell them, too.  The tales may not seem very important, but they are what binds families and makes each of us who we are.

Madeleine L’Engle

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For Monday, February 8, 2016:


“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.”

Charles de Lint

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”


A few days ago, a young friend shared a true story that is so good I encouraged her to expand it into a book.  I knew some of her story already, but I learned a lot I’d never heard before and I think many others will benefit from reading her personal experiences.

Each one of us has unique stories, with unique perspectives.  Perhaps some are traumatic, as Angelou’s early story was.  Still, she found her way through and came to find joy and peace, in part through her writing, in ways that help her readers to do so as well.  If she hadn’t told her story – and eventually her stories – the world would be much the poorer.

Others have humorous stories, or funny takes on life, that no one else does.  Others have thoughts and insights we need to know about, or poignant, profound responses to life that we can all learn from.

Whether we turn them into fiction, poetry, essay or memoir, our stories help others see the world in a new way, from a deeper, broader, wider point of view.  All of us benefit: the one who writes the story and those of us who take them in.

Every time someone shares his or her story, we – and the world, by extension – are made stronger in some way.  So please share yours, and thank you for doing so!

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For Friday, January 22, 2016:


“The universe is not made of atoms.  It’s made of tiny stories.”

Lifehack meme on Facebook

“Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.”

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Maybe it’s the almost-full moon and the five-planet alignment in the Northern Hemisphere, but I have Carl Sagan on my mind this morning.  More than almost anyone else, he was responsible for helping me discover that the universe is so much more than we can see or think we know.

Sagan’s excitement was contagious.  When I first watched his TV series ‘Cosmos,’ I didn’t understand a lot of the science behind it.  So I read his book by the same title.  That helped a lot.  Every time I watch the series or read the book now, I understand a little bit more.  But I was okay with not knowing.  I still am, thanks in part to Sagan, because I know one day we will all become part of the story.

What I liked best about Sagan, his shows, and his book was that he was okay with not knowing some things.  He seemed to love the possibilities, the mysteries of the universe that aren’t explainable by science or theology or mathematics, fully as much as – if not more than – he did the certainties.  He was enthralled by the discoveries that were and are out there waiting for us.  Every time something new has been and is discovered since his death, I think of Carl Sagan smiling wide, his eyes shining with wonder and expectation, out there somewhere in the universe he so loved, watching all the stories unfold.

I think often of the stories he could tell us now.  And I ask myself, how can I learn to see all that is around me, above me, below me, with Carl Sagan’s eyes – eyes that are always open to mystery, wonder, awe, possibility in the farthest reaches of the universe down to the tiniest atoms beneath our feet.

Somehow, I believe, we ‘know’ all of those particles around us and among us, above and below us.  At least some of the particles within us do.  And when they recognize each other, I imagine them smiling in their own ways with recognition.  And somehow Carl Sagan’s transcendent smile is reflected in theirs and maybe – just maybe – in a few of our words.

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For Thursday, January 14, 2016:


“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”

Rudyard Kipling

Oh, but it is!  And it was back in Kipling’s day.  Maybe not as much then as in my lifetime – maybe – but I do know there was this fellow called Homer … and another one called Shakespeare … and Albert Camus … and Charles Dickens.  And the Bronte sisters.  To name a few …

And those are just some whose words were written down.  There are also the stories that were born in the ancient tribal gatherings of peoples all over the world and passed down by word-of-mouth by the bards and poets and shamans.  And let’s not forget the grandmothers around whom we sat on the front porches of our lives.

Kipling’s right, though.  At least it’s true for me.  All throughout school, my favorite reading genre was historical fiction.  I learned so much more about the Revolutionary War, for instance, from author Kenneth Roberts than I ever learned from textbooks.  I still remember much of it.  Living in northern New England and close to New York State, I encounter place after place that I first learned of through Roberts’ books.

Historical fiction is still one of my favorites.  When a new work by Sharon Kay Penman comes out, I’m always one of the first in line to pick it up.  She’s one of the primary reasons I jumped at the opportunity to travel, when I still could, to England and Wales.

I don’t want to omit non-fiction writers who relate our histories in ways that engage readers fully as much as fiction writers.  Doris Kearns Goodwin comes immediately to mind, of course, but she’s not the only one by any means.

We need the firmament of those who have gone before us to make sense of today, to make our future better.  I believe we owe it to ourselves to read as much history as we can.  History – and herstory – is, as the word implies, our story, our stories.

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For Saturday, October 10, 2015:

“Things need not have happened to be true.  Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure

when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten.”

Neil Gaiman

While I do still have a favorite textbook or two, there’s a reason why many fairy tales and stories become classics — some through generations, even centuries — but most textbooks don’t.  What are your favorite classics?  What truths have they taught you that nothing else can?

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The daily prompt:

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas a day.  The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them.  Most people don’t see any.”

— Orson Scott Card

Who is waiting for you to give them a voice?  Maybe it’s your own story, your own voice, maybe it’s someone else’s, but there are stories out there waiting for you to find them.