So I’m a writer. Yep, I write! That’s what I’ve been doing for the better part of a year now.
Let me qualify the previous statement. Most of my life, I’ve been a storyteller. Only recently have fate, circumstances and a wonderfully beautiful woman conspired to enable me to write, as opposed to merely yak with smallish groups. Now my campfire tales, my epic sagas, my woven tapestries of heroic struggles between good and evil, are indelibly etched into/onto some medium. This is both good and bad in my opinion.
There was a sloppy, vaudeville charm to the Storyteller. He’d enter stage right, all top-hat and swirling long-coat, muttering incantations and gesticulating maniacally. An arched eyebrow and ominous tone were all it took to carry the day. That and an extroverted charisma the size of Texas. The Telling fed the Storyteller. The participation from those he told, drove the Story on to new heights. This birthing of a group idea, bound those participants in a unique way. Those Stories held a certain flavor that was both immediate and temporary. They burst on your tongue, sharply and strongly. Like smoke, when the tale was done there was nothing left but the echo of the memory of it, in the Teller as well as in the Told. Even a tale told twice, was never quite the same. Like an experience captured by the mind, a tale would morph and bend in the particular looking glass that was the witness. The Storyteller co-creates.
The Writer gives an air of permanent timelessness to the tale. Words strung into phrases, sentences, paragraphs then ultimately manuscripts, form a solid cage of structure. The Story flows, grows and unfolds within this framework. Once writ, it can be edited or bled of all originality. It can be refined or perfected for optimal niche-market consumption. The Writer exchanges the Story’s potential meme-like growth in the minds of humanity for static immortality. While the Story’s continued existence in some form is assured, there is no guarantee of participation from the Told. They do not ‘feed’ the Writer, with their gasps of wide-eyed wonder during the Telling. The Writer does not know if the Told will become Tellers. The Writer does not know if the Told will even remember his telling. The Writer writes.
Just writing that last paragraph depressed me. Let me be clear. I can see the obvious pros of writing. I might not have Tolkien’s world, certainly not the way it was written. I might be denied the powerful and thought provoking words of Jack Kerouac, J.D. Salinger or any number of wonderful Storytellers and poets who lived before my time. Isn’t writing and the ability to leave behind some sort of culture a measure of a society’s sophistication? I recognize all of this and willingly admit that I may be in love with the ‘romance’ of storytelling. I’m afraid that in this year of scribbling, the writer’s albatross of solitude has hung heavily ’round my neck.
I leave you with this question and invite any responses:
Can a Writer really be a Storyteller?