This Whale Eats Stories


I’ve long been possessed by the beauty and strangeness of sea creatures. They float, they swim, they disappear suddenly.

As a kid I collected rubber animals- often oddly misshapen versions of the sea creatures I liked so well. One form, the whale, has long fascinated me above all others. They are so large and have such a long history in human lives and tales, that I was excited that the carved whale would be the mascot of the Story Migration Project.


I love the idea that by holding the whale, it would remind you of some story- marine or otherwise. Then when the magic moment passes, you hand the whale on to someone else and the stories would flow out of them too. And since the whale I made was a gray whale, the whale should migrate towards Alaska in spring, towards Baja in the fall.

But what does one feed a wooden whale and how do you keep it going? You feed it stories of course! And how does it move? Person to person. You can’t (or shouldn’t) mail a whale.


So far the whale hasn’t experienced much success. It went from Portland, briefly to Olympia, Washington, then to the Methow Valley not far from the Canadian border. It sat in someone’s living room for the summer, then migrated to Seattle via Port Townsend, where I presume it is on hiatus as well.

Everyone I talked to seemed excited about the whale, but actions speak louder than words. If you put out a project like the Story Migration, and it fails to come to fruition, is it a failure, or just an idea whose time has not yet come?


  1. Stories come in fits and starts. Sometimes you swim against the tide of busy lives and daily distractions. It is hard to make progress, but it is still part of the story. Sometimes ideas gather dust while waiting for enough people to come together to breathe life into them. Who knows when inspiration will breach. It is always a good idea to put art out into the world to see what will happen. There will be a story in it, but probably not the one you expected.

  2. I read the posts related to this one, and read them again because I’m missing something. It’s obvious from this post that you expected something from us, your readers, but what? Are we to submit stories? About whales? There have been stories shared? What have I missed?

    1. You didn’t miss anything. The idea is that the whale is passed from person to person and inspires stories to be shared and I didn’t communicate that well enough. Wait around and maybe it will find you.

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