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Mastering the Omission

“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” — Hannah Arendt

There’s an art to telling stories. You see it masterfully displayed in the work of certain authors and public speakers. Everyone knows a great story when they hear it, but many don’t understand the craft of actually creating something that becomes compelling. As a would-be writer and occasional public speaker, I chip away at storytelling with the natural hope of drawing in the reader or audience, instead of lulling them to sleep.

Like any craft, storytelling requires apprenticeship and time. The artist grows into everything of consequence that they’ll ever create. We hone our skills, witness firsthand the impact of our work on others, and go back to the drawing board to try anew. Everything we do is a hit or a miss, and good timing is, if not everything, essential.

I say this as a lifetime apprentice to the craft of writing. A blog is like balsa wood for the aspiring storyteller, allowing the writer to carve out a sympathetic audience. But The Thinker wasn’t carved out of balsa wood. One must eventually step out of one’s comfort zone and take more risks. A journeyman reaches mastery when they create a masterpiece. We all reach a moment when we believe that the journeyman gig isn’t nearly enough.

Any masterpiece includes certain elements that demonstrate the fine skill of the craftsperson. In storytelling we often think about what to include, but often forget that true mastery includes omission. To draw an audience in, we must leave the space for them to fill.

As you’re doing right now.

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