Nov 5th, 2021

Storytellers: The soulful storyteller

by Synne Lindén

The story

When Lois Cliff went to take her driver’s license the second time round, she wound up with the same instructor she’d had the first time. The third time she tried for it, she failed again. Then, on the fourth go, she passed with flying colours. It doesn’t draw immediate connotations to ‘Most impactful moment of my life’ – or even stories that’s shaped someone into the person they are today.

For Lois, though, being a master of symbolism and unpacking the deeper meaning of stories, it is, in fact, a pillar of her persistence. And of her attitude that Plan B, or Plan C, or Plan D, for that matter, is by no means inferior to Plan A.

I had the test that was first thing in the morning, and we set off at 8 o’clock – so rush hour traffic. I got to the big motorway roundabout, with four lanes, and there was an articulated lorry broken down in the middle of the round about. Hell yeah. That was all I needed. Because, you know, you’ve got to drive (...) And that was the test. Of all the things that could have happened, that was what I needed. It should have been disastrous, too. But then that was the one that went, ‘Actually, Lois, you’ve got this.’

She has got it. It’s been a big year for Lois. Between a global pandemic and working on figuring out the sort of life she wants to be leading, it’s been a massive one. Backtrack about 10 months, and she was an English teacher, as she had been for 25 years. Then, one day, Lois decided that she wanted to do something else, and she quit. She doesn’t shy away from her teaching background, though – in fact, it’s still a part of her business – as it’s given her an immense catalogue of experience with storytelling. As she commences on her new career as a writer, the teacher in her is essential to her linguistic marvels.

I mean, I’ve done 25 years or so in classrooms, with kids who love stories. And if you have to sell something that’s Dullsville – like full stops and comma usage, for example – tell a story. Make it interesting, make it amusing, make it a bit wacky. People remember that stuff. And if you can sketch a really dodgy cartoon at the same time, you’re winning.

Stories are how we understand life. Look at your day. Break it down. In fact, it’s a series of stories. And Lois is a master of telling them. From her intricate, mouthwatering renditions of her lunch (words like hummus, red onion, garlic, tomatoes and sourdough are regularly featured), to her reflections on a recent learning she’s experienced or a grand philosophical moment, Lois speaks in stories. It is her language. Add in the fact that she has an immense command of English vocabulary, and what you’re left with is a moulded, groomed, ever-learning storyteller.

I mean, I’ve done 25 years or so in classrooms, with kids who love stories. And if you have to sell something that’s Dullsville – like full stops and comma usage, for example – tell a story. Make it interesting, make it amusing, make it a bit wacky. People remember that stuff. And if you can sketch a really dodgy cartoon at the same time, you’re winning.

Synne in forest

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