Let Me Tell a Story Now by Bessie Head
In Let Me Tell a Story Now by Bessie Head we have the theme of writing, fear, self-belief and confidence. Taken from her Tales of Tenderness and Power collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Head may be exploring the theme of writing. The narrator wishes to write a story but the story she has in mind, of a couple travelling by train, is not fully developed. The main character in the story appears to be afraid to go to Durban. He can’t pinpoint why he is afraid but knows that neither his wife nor himself can go. It is as though the man thinks that he will be made a fool of in Durban because of the way he speaks. This may be significant as it suggests that the man suffers with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. His wife on the other hand boards the train to Durban with no problems. This too could be important as Head may be suggesting that the man’s wife is full of confidence and does not suffer with low self-esteem. For her she is on a holiday. One she is looking forward to.
There is also no doubting that the narrator views yourself as a writer. Though she has yet to have anything published. The reader aware that both previous efforts at publication have been lost. Though this is not important. The important thing is that the narrator tries to write and has ideas for stories. Whether other people appreciate her stories is another thing. Writers are not often praised when their profession is revealed. Something that the narrator is only too well aware of. People don’t seem to understand the discipline involved in writing and as mentioned the narrator has two manuscripts already written. Which would highlight to the reader that the narrator has the ability to be disciplined when it comes to her writing. She just appears to have hit a dry spot, that’s all. One down heartening moment in the story is the narrator’s belief that she won’t be a proper writer until she earns some money. That shouldn’t be the standard that a writer sets for themselves. A writer should write because they can. At first writing for themselves and then for others.
Some critics might also suggest that the narrator lacks the real drive to be a writer. She has after all given up writing after only two manuscripts. However it might be important to remember that her mind is fermenting with another story. She may be the type of person who continually thinks about writing. Even if it is a difficult thing for her to say to others. Though the bench mark for most people who meet a writer is to ask what stories or books have they published. Something that the narrator is only too well aware of. As mentioned the narrator may just be going through a bad period but she has to write something soon for others to take her seriously.
There is also one downfall to the story she has in mind. The man doesn’t board the train and the narrator will have to think of an entirely different story to write. One in which she might not be prepared for. Though she could still write something or have the train station and boarding the train as the ending of the story rather than the beginning. There are so many opportunities for a story that the narrator just might need to think through things again but she may lack the confidence to do so. She may be set in her ways and lack flexibility when it comes to writing stories. Either way the narrator has a writers mind and is apt at distinguishing people and their occupations. This in itself could be the foundation of a story for the narrator. She does not have to limit herself to one beginning or one ending. In front of her is blank page in which she can write any story that she likes. She’s already proved she can write with her two lost manuscripts. A story should come easy to her if she just believes in herself.