Pinch of Salt Graphic (English)

Around the hearth stone every night, a storyteller lives forever.

That's the tagline quote (by anonymous) that Mariana Williams uses in all of her Long Beach Searches For The Greatest Storyteller. Patterned after the popular Moth events and radio show, the search completed its seventh season on Monday night, crowning Debra Ehrhardt the 2017 champion.

We've been a sponsor since the beginning, and I've been a judge for almost every event. But, as much as it would be easy to write a whole column about Marianna and her celebrity husband Paul Williams, this isn't about them.

Instead, it's about telling stories.

I think it's safe to say that I am a professional storyteller. While telling stories isn't all of my job, it's a big portion of it — and the portion that you, gentle reader, see. So it's important to me.

I take another page from the Moth and Marianna — all of my stories are true, at least as far as I can tell.

Most of the time, I tell straight-ahead stories. Just the facts, ma'am. We call them hard news, and it includes everything from what the City Council is up to this week to why the SeaPort Marina Hotel is still there (see Page 1A).

Then there are the features. While I leave most of those people stories to my staff, I'll tell (write) one of those stories once in awhile, just to prove I can still do it.

Here at the Grunion, we love people stories. I'm personally fond of stories about nonprofits, too. I've discovered that people like to read about people, especially when the story's about a triumph or one person helping another. (Dogs and children are ultra-popular too.)

Our only problem is there are far more stories than there is space and time. That's because everyone, and I mean everyone, has a story worth telling.

Think about it for a second. If you're a parent, you know you've got stories about the joys and sorrows of raising children. If you're not a parent, you have stories about your own youth, your college days or your job. And, if you can pull it out of them, your parents have stories too.

Many people will tell you that their life is boring, or that nothing worth telling has happened to them. Wrong.

You don't have to be a skydiver or a mountain climber to have a compelling story to tell. How you managed to learn a second language, or get your first child through the croup, or what you sacrificed to buy your own bicycle or … You get the picture. Your life is a story that's yet to be finished.

I think that we humans simply cannot get along without stories. Look at our history — stories were part of the fabric of every race, passing down history, tradition and information long before the written word arrived.

Our most sacred books are primarily compilations of stories. And, as much as I hate to admit it, even cat videos are a type of story.

I love telling stories, and I love hearing them, too. That's why this job is so much fun. I do one or the other every day.

And you do, too.

Will you tell me a story?

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

Load comments