There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
Maya Angelou (b. 1928), American poet
Prior to New York and a writing life, or about nine years ago, I
relocated to New York City to attend graduate school at New York University in clinical counseling. It was my time at NYU and most particularly an independent study in the final year that proved to be a watershed for my life. The independent study focused on the connections between gender bias, narrative and the emergence of the Self. That study reshaped my identity as a woman and as an artist. It also produced a self-narrative paradigm which I named the Scheherazade Model, after the famous Arabian storyteller of the same name, who told stories to save not only her own life but the lives of other women.
In 2006 I launched a web site, The Scheherazade Project. The goal was to have a place that I could have a voice, explore the narrative work I began at NYU and, quite simply, begin my writing life. Over that first year, I wrote about the three prongs of the Scheherazade Model: mythology of self, mythology of other and mythology of planet. The focus was on feminine values, community and harmony, as opposed to masculine values, individuation and conquest.
I was slow in finding my way and there were frequent rewrites, editing, misdirection. The web site has been rechristened and reimagined several times. But, looking back now, I realize that is part of the process of discovering and claiming your own voice. It is also part of the process of discovering and naming your own life.
A mystical conversation. Odilon Redon. 1896. Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu, Japan.
Scheherazade is the Persian storyteller from The Arabian Nights. She is known for her famous spiral of nested stories which she told over a period of 1001 nights. By telling her stories she not only saved her own life, but she transformed the heart of a kingdom.