Since I finished writing a new novel, I’ve been down. It’s the contraction that inevitably follows the expansion of creative emission, I tell myself. Or maybe it’s the fact that my agent says that nobody’s buying fiction, no matter how good or well-written or funny it is. Or maybe it’s the purple vertical pinstripe that appeared this morning on my computer monitor, that I’m told is the beginning of a pinstripe cancer that will render my screen unreadable. Whatever it is, I am down and depressed and feel like wallowing. “Why?” I rail at the universe, sounding like a middle-aged Nancy Kerrigan. And that’s when the Moth Radio Hour comes on.
Simply stated, the Moth Radio Hour is one of the best things I’ve ever heard. It is an hour of true stories for grownups told by regular people, without scripts, taped in front of audiences. What lifted me out of my funk? It was the harrowing and hilarious story of a woodworker who was nearly stabbed to death by a gang; as part of an initiation, they had to kill someone, and storyteller Ed Gavagan got the role of victim — except he didn’t die. By the end of the story, I was crying tears of gratitude and had completely forgotten about my purple vertical pinstripe.
Good stories are magical. They can take you out of an emotional abyss, instantly transform you, and change your perspective on everything. A recent study found that our brains react to reading stories as if we are having the physical experiences evoked by the tales.
I spent nine months making up a story that may or may not be bought. But that doesn’t diminish the magic. For nine months, I laughed and loved and felt wonderful — same as I did listening to the Moth Radio Hour. What amazing therapy … and it’s drugless and free.
To learn about The Moth programs, go to TheMoth.org (you can hear some stories at TheMoth.org/listen)
To hear the Moth Radio Hour online, go to prx.org/the-moth
All the stories are good, but my favorites, so far, are:
Hour 1 — Anthony Griffin’s “The Heartbroken Comedian”; be prepared to have your heart ripped out and shaken up
Hour 2 — Alan Rabinowitz’s “Man or Beast”; it made me feel strong and peaceful
Hour 4 — the aforementioned Ed Gavagan’s “A Miraculous Survivor”
A postscript, written 3/1/11: Last night I attended my first live story slam at NYC's landmark club, The Bitter End. I was not disappointed!