When ‘The Boy With No Story’ has a tale to tell

Sometimes I fear I have no story. I don’t mean writer’s block. I mean that I have no story, no narrative that spells out what it is I’ve done, or what I’m doing, with my life.

This struck me the other day when I recalled a children’s story by Irish singer-storyteller Tommy Sands. It’s called “The Boy with No Story.” I remember it from taking one of my boys to hear Sands perform 20 years ago.

It got me thinking about the power of story, and how it’s inextricably linked to the human experience. At the same time, I was getting smacked pretty hard in the gut by some revelations and discoveries about my past — difficult ones, at that.

I believe there’s some sort of master plan that put these things in front of me all at once. That plan has me asking, “What am I doing here?”

Don’t get me wrong. I love telling stories. Other people’s stories. It’s in my Irish DNA, and for good measure I kissed the Blarney Stone on one of my visits to the Erin Isle.

Telling stories is my life’s work, a huge part of my life’s play. For more than two decades I wrote for a newspaper, telling other people’s stories. I still tell stories as part of my current job and I do it here on this blog, where “Everybody has a story.”

I’ve told some. About good people like Gabrielle, RPF and Homeless James. About brave young people — Wayne and Ms. Toots — taken too soon by cancer. I plan on sharing many more.

But I have yet to write my own story. Which brings me back to Tommy Sands, and “The Boy with No Story.” (The boy’s name is Paddy McGee, so how could I not relate to the wee lad?)

Paddy is a good boy, but is distraught, empty and isolated because he has no story to tell. Then one night he is visited by faeries who send him on a mission. It’s a grand adventure that involves a rainbow-colored horse, a sea monster and a certain significant newborn in the Christian religion.

Paddy returns safely (of course!) to tell the faeries the good news they had been waiting eons to hear. Much revelry begins.

Paddy returns to his life, with quite a story to tell. He is welcomed everywhere, for people love to hear his grand tale of the faeries and the courage he showed in the face of danger. His listeners hate to see him go.

Unlike Paddy, I’ve had the luxury of telling other people’s stories. In a way, that is my story. It’s been a fair decent tale so far. It’s given me access to wonderful people I likely wouldn’t have met had I not been a writer.

Other than a few literary figures, the people I’ve written about over the years are not well-known. I like that. If I don’t tell hidden, untold stories, maybe no one will. Then those stories would be lost forever.

I will keep at it. But at some point, I may try something different. I don’t know exactly what that is, or where it will take me. But maybe there’s a story there somewhere.

Here’s a recording of Tommy Sands reading “The Boy With No Story.” 


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in Children, communication, family, Irish Investigations, language, music, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to When ‘The Boy With No Story’ has a tale to tell

  1. chmjr2 says:

    We need story tellers more than ever today. But perhaps we need even more is for people to listen and think about these stories. Our attention span is getting shorter. So story tellers who can get and keep our attention is a much needed thing. You are one of those story tellers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your stories Jim. I remember one about you confronting a truck driver while you were out for a run – that was your story! I bet you have a hard time talking about yourself, am I right? There are probably tons of stories about you like, how did you become a writer? Why are stories important to you? How did you meet your girlfriend? What was it like growing up? What’s the most amazing thing that happened to you as a kid? How do you know Mark Bialczak? You have a story Jim, we all do… ❤
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jim McKeever says:

    Wow, Diana, thank you! And that’s a lot of questions … I guess I’ll have to keep telling stories for a while. 🙂 Here’s a short answer to two of them. I used to work at “the big daily” with Mark and Michelle. Mark and I were in the same department for a while, and sat back to back in cubicles. More like cheek to cheek, because we bumped into each other’s hindquarters frequently. Michelle is a photojournalist and a very, very good one at that. I admit to being a little biased. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. …


  4. You are a Bard dear Jim. And if the story of a Bard is not a good story…..I don’t know what is. “Ireland” by Frank Delaney is a wonderful story of a Bard who’s story of course, is about telling other’s stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. markbialczak says:

    I happen to think that your story is an interesting tale, lad. And you’re the man to tell it in your own inimitable style. When the time comes, Jim, and I can hear the ticking in your head …


  6. Jim McKeever says:

    Thank you, Mark … it’s certainly an adventure, this living business!


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