The Story Cocoon

I’ve been within the membrane of a story since the movie ended yesterday evening.

Part of the longevity has to do with the type of movie (Amazing Grace), of course. But more even than that, I attribute the strength of the membrane to a post-story silence that I observed yesterday, maybe for the first time.

When telling stories– especially heavy, significant stories, and especially to an older audience– one recommendation is to take an entire five-minutes for silence after the story, before talking about it or starting a new one.

On our way to the car, and our first two minutes there, I effervesced my first impressions, and how the the woman’s role coalesced cleanly with three other sources (I may essay about later) that were on my mind recently.

This talk had made me turn off the radio (I refuse to compete with talk radio) so when we made a stop for Jay partway home, I waited in a quiet car.

There is a line in The Magician’s Nephew about the place you could almost feel the trees growing, and that was the curious sensation I felt while Jay was gone: a sense of growing and solidifying. Foundation stones, or roots of Story were growing both down and out, connecting something in my core to something in my story cocoon.

~ ~ ~

Do you know what I mean by a story cocoon, or a story membrane?

It’s not just the ability to get lost in a story, but the presence and weight of when you’re there. It’s the extra atmospheric pressure of another world, and the iridescent bubble that hasn’t quite popped, even when the story’s ended.

It’s the slowness you feel as you’re leaving a dark theater, or closing a book, while your mind works to order the myriad of sensations you’ve just received and reconcile them to your understanding of the world as it is. (Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it doesn’t.)

And it’s that feeling of a story sticking with you, affecting you.

~ ~ ~

The idea about this first came when I was reading The Thirteenth Tale, and while it applies to books as much as to movies, I think we experience it with movies more.

I’m beginning to think that this is the strongest argument for Charlotte Mason‘s directive to read slowly. More slowly and in smaller sections than you can based simply on your ability or interest, in order to allow the content to infuse your thinking and, basically, last long enough to truly affect you.

~ ~ ~

The question, of course, remains as to how much you want a story to affect you. Good/effective writing or storytelling will create a stronger cocoon that’s harder to escape from, and this is why I always want to be so careful what I expose myself to. After all, innocence is not just for kids.

6 thoughts on “The Story Cocoon

  1. Thanks Amy. I DO know what you mean by a story membrane, or story cocoon. I like the image of “extra atmospheric pressure,” and the illusion to Lewis’ wood between the worlds. To me, it often feels as though the story is working its way through my mind and soul, weaving itself into me until I have been able to assimilate it, learn from it, truly bring it with me. Frequently this sense of growing down and out, as you put it, brings me back to re-read the first chapter, and sometimes even the entire book. Sometimes the process takes moments, other times days.

    I’ve done a fair bit of studying and experiencing re-entry culture shock – the reverse shock you get when returning to your own culture after having been immersed in a foreign culture. I would say that the two experiences are very similar – in both instances you have traveled to a place that is different from your normal environment, and been changed by the experience. Upon return, you find that you see your own life differently now, because you yourself have changed. Everything needs to be re-oganized in your mind. I think the book membrane phenomenon is very similar. Which shows me how spiritual of an experience story can be, and warns me too to protect and cherish this place and ability in me.

    This comment is getting so long, I may just need to write my own post and link back. Stay tuned. :) Thanks for starting the conversation…

  2. Sorry, I just realized that it wasn’t in the wood between world where you could feel the trees growing – just the opposite! Oops. :)

  3. Amy – I do know this exact feeling. Thanks for putting into words for me…:) I’ve always loved the feeling that comes immediately after closing a book that has connected to something inside of me – sometimes I do just sit and sort of soak it all in. And then for the rest of the day, it’s almost as if I’m getting over a time change or coming back from vacation – I have to get back in tune with my actual surroundings, while keeping that glimmer of memory of the trip inside. You’ve captured the sensation perfectly – and I’ll be sure to be even more aware of the rooting and affecting the next time I finish a film or movie because of this post.

  4. Amy, I’ve known this feeling well, but never knew how to put it into words until I read your post.

    Someday I hope to write stories that do just that…create the story membrane around those who read it. I’m no where near that point and I have to wonder…is this something that can even be learned?

    Thank you for giving me something to ponder on for today.

  5. Pingback: Untangling Tales » Novel Samples Availible

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *