WHAT IS STORYTELLING? Storytelling is a uniquely human experience that enables us to convey, through the language of words, aspects of ourselves and others, and the worlds, real or imagined, that we inhabit. Stories enable us to come to know these worlds and our place in them given that we are all, to some degree, constituted by stories: stories about ourselves, our families, friends and colleagues, our communities, our cultures, our place in history. Hardy's (1977:13) observation that 'we dream in narrative, daydream in narrative, remember, anticipate, hope, despair, believe, doubt, plan, revise, criticise, construct, gossip, learn, hate and live by narrative' , reveals how pervasive and integral stories are to ourlives. As Lodge (1990:4) comments, 'narrative is one of the fundamental sense-making operations of the mind, and would appear to be both peculiar
to and universal among human beings'. Byatt (2000: 166) concurs, saying storytelling is 'as much part of human nature as breath and the circulation of blood', a view echoed by Barthes (1977:79) who says 'it is simply there, like life itself'. Given its power, and the way it touches individual lives, it is worth noting McEwan and Egan's (1995: viii) observation: 'A narrative, and that particular form of narrative that we call a story, deals not just in facts or ideas or theories, or even dreams, fears and hopes, but in facts, theories, and dreams from the perspective of someone' s life and in the context of someone's emotions'.