Sunday, May 13, 2007

Telling tales

We are all writers of one sort or another, even if it is only the occasional letter, an email, or a note to school excusing ourselves from sport (yes I did, and my hand writing was more like my mums than hers was).
But what makes us want to take it a stage further and write prose, novels, short stories and poetry? What is this drive that wakes us at dawn with the seed of an idea, this overwhelming compulsion to commit everything we see and hear, stapling it to bits of paper, a word doc, or the back of a gas bill in a vain attempt to capture life at its best, worst or indifferent?

I cannot go a day without writing something, adding to a current project, burning toast/dinner/midnight oil with my need to finish a blog post, or decorate a fancy tale.
I also adore reading, and reading aloud to children is a passion that I don't think I will ever be able to give up. My work allows this obsession but Goddess help my poor grandchildren, subjected night after night to Granns Fairy Tales.
So, is it a need to be famous and go down in the annals of time as a 'writer wot wrote good words', or is it much simpler than that? I think I am a simple storyteller, a teller of short and tall tales. A modern version of a Bard, a Skald, or a travelling Minstrel, eager to spread the stories of our world that our ancestors would have listened to instead of Radio Four.
Now my tale is done for today, what about yours?
In laughter and tumbling we spend the whole day
til night, by arriving, has ended our play
the stories are read
the monsters are dead
as we tumbled all day
so we tumble to bed


Roberta said...

Forgive this Story Teller for proceeding...

...In laughter and tumbling we spend the whole day
til night, by arriving, has ended our play
the stories are read
the monsters are dead
as we tumbled all day
so we tumble to bed...

To gratefully turn our
night lanterns on
and cover our heads and laughing
till dawn
We continue the stories
We continue the tales
and wake in the mornings
to all sorts of ails

so we can begin again...

concerned citizen said...

I love the oral history of the town where I live. I didn't grow up here. I came in 1981, & I'll always be an outsider. But, I'm fascinated with their history. Just last Friday, I was at the house of friends who consider themselves local historians. You run into a lot of that here. The towns in this County are small & spread apart. Most people have generations of personal history here. It seems there is always a connection between their individual stories. I have gone from house to house & followed the continuing saga of this community. It's like a big grid where peoples lives, & deaths & babies & tragedys connect to each other. The people I visit with don't usually take much encouragment to get them going.
You know, I have never found a person in this town I couldn't get to tell a tale.
From my perspective, telling tales is all about making connections. It ultimately connects people to each other.

Anonymous said...

allow me:

unleavened lives dwell
til the day words interweave
and dictate our play

lovely post you have here, Minx! :)

Catherine said...

I look on it as catching fragments of life, painting pictures with words and yes, when something stirs it has to be recorded, it is a compulsion that cannot be resisted.

Of course, some do it better than others, but it is the doing that matters.

Debi said...

Yes! A storyteller!

It's one of the reasons I love my writers' group (apart from the wonderful people of course). Because we meet in each other's homes and read our diverse words aloud, it feels like a modern version of sitting round the fireside telling stories.

Unknown said...

Is creativity then designed to pass on history, knowledge, ideas etc for humanity to keep in its communal mind? Are we learning from it and should we now consider ourselves as travelling storytellers of one sort or another? Surely blogging has a huge part to play in this.

Unknown said...

I like that idea of being a travelling storyteller.

Marie said...

I write because I am driven to. Ever since I can remember I have loved words and stories. And I like creating characters.

Most of all I write to stay sane.

Unknown said...

That chap Daniel Dennett (sp?) talks about memes, and I think that stories are a way of spreading more memes throughout the world, but ones with our own particular embellishments. I like l>t's reply, which I think is part of it, but I think we are passing on our own singular unique point of view and ultimately communicating whatever we can - it's what 'oomans were designed for. That and passing ourselves on in our genes whereever possible. Maybe that's it - passing ourselves on...

Art Durkee said...

Creativity exists for its own purpose: to create. It doesn't need to be justified.

On the theological side, though, it's argued by several in various mystical traditions that creation is a divine practice in which we participate. Which of course ties in with that whole "you create your own reality" thing. I like this argument, from Matthew Fox: If indeed we are created in the Image of God(dess), who is the Creator, then whenever we create we are re-enacting Creation, being/becoming divine, and participating in Creation, which it is our joy and necessity to do.

Meister Eckhart once said: "What does God do all day? God lies on a birthing bed all day, giving birth."

concerned citizen said...

Don't forget what Today is!

I have been busy over at my blog.
There's a whole a pile of shit over there.


Unknown said...

I've joined in enthusiastically l>t. Maybe that's why I'm not feeling so creative today!

Unknown said...

Yes V, I think all towns and cities should hae to employ a Public Storyteller - I'd kill for that job!

Stay sane Marie, why when there is so much good insanity to be had?

Cailleach, you have passed yourself on six times - more poets?

The creative process is justified in itself, Art, a means to an end (or a beginning). What I would like to explore is the question of that inate need in some or us to tell stories. I think we have only survived this far because of the storytellers who passed on lessons learned before them. Does this still fit today? I think so, and if so, then it is still an essential part personal and communal development?

L>t - HAPPY BOWEL MOVEMENT DAY - hope its a good one!

Anonymous said...

I was hoping to be famous like my hero Jeffrey Archer....

Roberta said...

I was hoping to add something intellectual to this discussion. I am not, however, qualified.

I can tell you that it begins with family stories told around the table, rich history, embellished enough to make everyone laugh and remember.

My grandmother used to tell me stories when I was little. I love to think that this is why I carry on as the story teller in the family.

Unknown said...

And I'm sure you will, Mut, and we will tell no one about your Spock underwear!

Unqualified! Are you mad, Roberta? As a writer of poems and teller of tales you are more than qualified.
My grandad used to tell me stories about his days in the navy. They were probably not suitable for a six-year-old but I learned a lot about the 'wazzocks' he sailed with.

Roberta said...

Well thank you...and alright then.

Except to say, I enjoy telling stories and writing poetry. It releases in me something that I need. Endomorphes? I don't know, but it makes me feel complete. There is that moment, when you finish a piece and you take a deep breath and release it. You know it's good. You know you have been touched by something other than yourself. A message has been sent out.

I will proceed on to Happy Bowel Movement Monday Celebrations!


concerned citizen said...

Is creativity then designed to pass on history, knowledge, ideas etc for humanity to keep in its communal mind? When I was a Christian I taught a class on the book of Ruth in the OT. We've all heard that the Jewish people had a long tradition of oral history, before it was written down, right? That whole thing about the jot & tittle(?) is said to be true even in their oral history.
The Book of Ruth is written as a short moral story. What is really cool about the book of Ruth is all the characters names & the names of the Cities & areas when translated back into the original Hebrew, literally described their characters as the story protrayed them. I don't have my Stronges Concordance anymore & it's been years since I taught the class but for instance, Ruth's Brother-in-Laws were flakes & one's name literally tranlated into something like weak & crippled & the others name literally meant something like sly & shifty. The cities in the story had names that literally meant something grand if they were good places & something horrible if they were bad places. It showed me how the Hebrews could take these stories with them in sparse form but in the telling, they were very rich. Neat trick, huh?

The Wandering Author said...

I think storytelling is a very basic part of human survival - it provides for the passing on of wisdom and truth. I literally can't imagine life without storytelling as a part of it.

L.M.Noonan said...

I think it's all of those reasons and some that are difficult-at least for me; to describe with any clarity. But for me, writing is like any other 'making'. I'm trying to connect and at the same time leave a little bit of myself.Immortality of sorts? maybe I wouldn't need it if I believed in afterlife. Oh...and it's also an exorcism,- despite what that word conjures up; and a confessional.

Unknown said...

Yeah exorcism and a confessional is a great way of describing it. And then l>t's point about the book of Ruth is very interesting too. I suppose it's a way of understanding the world we live in through a medium we are drawn to. So, I suppose like Minx says it will always be essential. Different people are needed in a community and we all arrive at understandings differently, so the storyteller will always be essential in some form or another.

Unknown said...

I think also that the Book of Ruth could be considered the first acknowledged novella L>t - interesting stuff. I think that Ruth was the first Book that I had read in the bible and identified with a female writer (this has still not been proven, I don't think). I am going to go back and have another look at it.

Roberta, you are right, it is a spookey feeling when one feels that the piece produced is not always of our own making - a muse comes in many guises?

Totally agree WA. I have been reading about the Cornovii recently, a pre-Roman celtic tribe living mostly in Wales. It was thought that the tribes spoke many different dialects but were brought together by the common language of storytelling and bardic verse.

LM and Verilion - but why do we need this personal exorcism, this need to express to the world what is going on in our heads?
I start every writing project with 'what if that happens?' regardless of the timeframe of the piece. This infernal questioning is what gets me through the whole process. Maybe I should consult with the Question Mistress/Master?

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about this lately -- what I am doing, what I want to do, how did I get to this point.

I shake my head in agreement to your words, yes, yes, I think, exactly. Ah, "to capture life," as you write, in all its complexities, its nuances, its wonderful state of being predictable and totally unpredictable at the same time.

To be published allows that thought -- to be famous, to live on after we die -- to enter our being but I think you are right in that it is much simplier than that, it is in our need to tell a story, plain and simple. It gives ourselves something to hold on to.

Anonymous said...

I only live with regrets for what I write... if I worked harder it would be better...

Unknown said...

Simply telling tales then, Mr Good. I like that, it sits well with me.

An old fart of a ex-publisher, after he had grudgingly decided that there may be a tiny seed of a writer in me, told me that writing is a craft. A craft that you spend your whole life trying to perfect and learning this craft means a lifetime of blood, sweat, tears and work. The old fart was right, it is work, but the kind of work that you are so wrapped up in that you hardly notice.

Anonymous said...

Hope you don't mind me dropping by, just wanted to congratulate you on such beautiful writing. I just love writing stories and hope to find a suitable publisher during my lifetime. Well, actually I was hoping to have my work published one day in the forseeable future. I day-dream a lot, but we all have to start somewhere.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your kind words, Ms Jigsaw, you are very welcome here. Enjoyment, yes, nearly forgot that bit. I have got to learn to stop smiling when I am writing - I am developing writing wrinkles.
Dreaming is good, look where idle daydreaming got me!

sexy said...