There’s a magic that happens when people share stories. I call it magic because it’s hard to describe in words that unmistakable wow-me-too-I’m-not-alone connection that happens when one person takes the risk to be vulnerable, and it changes someone’s life. Even if the change is as small as an altered perspective, that shift may result in a huge change years down the road. There’s no way to know how our personal story will affect another person. All we can do is risk and share.
After publishing the premiere issue of Under the Gum Tree this past August, we had a launch party here in Sacramento. People came to hear stories—people who I didn’t know. I was overwhelmed by the evening. I cried. Maybe only because one of the readers was my best friend, but I wasn’t the only one who experienced a bit of magic that night.
A few days later, I got this email from someone who attended the party:
“I really enjoyed the evening. It was a great vibe, people were clearly enthusiastic about UTGT. I really enjoyed hearing the authors read their works. So many good, authentic stories! With all the hubub in my life I haven’t taken a chance to tell you how wonderfully UTGT turned out and how much I enjoyed your story. You dreaming up and manifesting this creative project is very inspiring to me —so thank you for that! It is infectious in the best kind of way.”
This note embodies the spirit of Under the Gum Tree. You don’t need to know this person or specifics of the “hubub” to resonate with the words—it’s about connecting with others in the most authentic way possible. It’s about being inspired and encouraged just by hearing how others reconcile what they don’t understand about themselves, be it coping with chronic blushing, a broken heart or a much-needed ego check.
I believe sharing personal stories is more about the reader (or listener) than the storyteller. Sure, the storyteller has a job to do, a message to deliver and a craft to hone. Beyond that, the most important thing a storyteller needs to do is get over him or herself, worry less about self and more about the other. Storyteller must know that his or her story will do more good when shared than kept.
It’s that self-sacrifice that puts the magic in sharing stories. The storyteller exposes him or herself, risking personal fears, for the sake of helping someone who can be encouraged by the story.
Under the Gum Tree publishes creative nonfiction in an effort to spark that magic. If, as you read the stories in these pages, you sense what I’m talking about, I hope you will share it with someone who could also use a little magic.
Here’s to telling stories without shame,
Janna Marlies Maron
Editor & Publisher