[…] that is the way with stories; we make them what we will. It’s a way of explaining the universe while leaving the universe unexplained, it’s a way of keeping it all alive, not boxing it into time. Everyone who tells a story tells it differently, just to remind us that everyone sees it differently.

Jeanette Winterson in Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. [1]

It’s so true, isn’t it? I have tended to think of telling stories differently each time as betrayal, loss, loss of integrity, but it’s more than that. The integrity of a story is not in keeping it consistent. (And how would that be possible in any case? with the internal changes for storytellers and listeners and the changes in who takes on those roles? in the shift in word meanings for each person and in differing perceptions of audiences?) The integrity of a story is in being a collection of somethings we, person telling and person listening and both at once, respond to. And the shape of it can change, it may become unrecognisable, but it is still the same story pulling something out of us, pushing something into us. A story is not stone, one cannot keep a hold of it, control how other people respond to it; they respond, and it flows on. Creating and responding and building: creating again: it’s what humans do.

[1] Which is very very good! Though one of these days I would like to read a book about a young lesbian coming into her identity that doesn’t leave me sad!

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