I remember when I prepared and delivered my TEDx Talk on suicide prevention. The talk included my personal account of suicide behavior and my thoughts on suicide prevention. I rehearsed the talk at least 50 times from front to back and even more times focusing on particular lines and paragraphs. I wanted the delivery to be perfect. I wanted my story and my message to make an impact. When I finally hit the stage, I was a little nervous, but I delivered my talk the way I intended.
As I watched the Got Your 6 Storytellers event in Los Angeles last night, I was reminded of that experience and how important each word and each line is. The words we use to describe an experience shape the way our audience perceives that experience. The words we choose, the cadence we deliver, the pauses we take, our mannerisms during the talk, and many more elements play a part in how a story is both given and received.
The art of storytelling is a valuable one. Yesterday we released an interview with author and award winning journalist Sebastian Junger. In that interview we spoke about the benefits of sharing one’s experience in a straightforward way. Today we bring you a Storytellers alum Phil Klay. Klay’s New York Times-bestselling short story collection won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2014. His book Redeployment also received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb award for fiction. He spoke at Storytellers in 2014 and our discussion with him gets into the art of storytelling, and the benefits of expressing yourself through words, whether or not you end up delivering or publishing them.
Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. After being discharged he received an MFA from Hunter College of The City University of New York. Klay’s New York Times-bestselling short story collection won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2014. Redeployment also received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb award for fiction dealing with U.S. Marines or Marine Corps life, the National Book Critics’ Circle John Leonard Award for best debut work in any genre, the American Library Association’s W. Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction, the Chautauqua Prize, and the Warwick Prize for Writing; and was short listed for the Frank O’Connor Prize. He was also named a National Book Foundation ‘5 Under 35′ honoree. Klay’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and the Brookings Institution’s Brookings Essay series.
Covered in Episode 58:
- Got Your 6 StorytellersX events
- Interview with Marine Veteran Phil Klay
- Why he joined the Marine Corps
- Deploying to Iraq
- Deciding to separate from the military and his transition
- The value and power of storytelling
- His routine for writing
- His recommended books from Veteran authors
- #VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran Charles Norman Shay