|clipart courtesy of pixabay.com|
"You can't visit readers where you think they are. You have to invite them home to where you are and try to lure them into your universe. That's the art of storytelling." --Jo Nesbo
We were on a walk together this morning, hubby and I, when we met a neighbor heading home from her walk. We greeted each other then stopped and chatted, spending a few minutes to catch up on life, mutual friends, and--as is often the proclivity of the grandparenting stage--updates on children and grandchildren. Oh, the stories we had to tell! Storytelling was in rare form out there under the August morning sun.
I came home thinking about how we tell stories. We craft our tales in ways to get--and keep--someone's attention. We get animated. We are expressive. We are engaged. We have fun.
It should be that way with writing, too, shouldn't it? Hmmm. That got me thinking, too. Writing is fun or else we wouldn't stick with it. But can we admit that there are times when it isn't so much so? The times we get bogged down with form, structure, getting that beginning just right, stressing out over grammar, or any number of elements of crafting our stories. What happened to the initial glow of the idea? When did the light grow dim?
I contend that it's because we've lost sight of one of the fundamentals of being a writer: writers are storytellers. Later we we can stress out over...I mean...revise and apply all the craft techniques we've learned. But first immerse yourself in the fun of simply telling a story! Send that internal editor off on vacation for a while.
I stumbled across a great quote by Donald Maass, author of The Fire in Fiction and other great books on the craft of writing. It was actually in a comment thread over at Writer Unboxed where Liz Micalski wrote a post titled Writer, Author, or Storyteller? Mr. Maass commented, "There's nothing wrong with learning the business and working hard at it. However, what makes that possible in the first place is storytelling. First you write. Then you learn. then you relax. Then you tell stories."
Thanks much, Mr. Maass!
Rachel, a guest blogger featured recently over at Story Addict, was asked the question, "Writing vs. Storytelling--What's the Difference?" Her answer? "Writing is the technical aspect of conveying a story, whereas storytelling is the side of pure enjoyment and fun."
Others voice similar themes:
"I think storytelling is all about children. We human beings love to hear stories being told--and it first happens when you're a kid." --David Chase
"I've always been sort of drawn to storytelling, and I was always very playful growing up." --Megan Boone
"No, the thing is, we all love storytelling, and as a writer you get to tell stories all the time." --Joyce Carol Oates
"Storytelling is what lights my fire." --Hope Davis
Do we see a theme here? Are you having fun yet?
Kristine Kathryn Rusch at kriswrites.com stated this: "We read Jane Austen and Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, even though their work is also stylistically dated, because all three told great stories. We're reading for the story, not for the sentences or the beautifully constructed metaphor." She concludes with an interesting challenge: "Stop calling yourself a writer. The label is a misnomer. Call yourself a storyteller. And then prove it--over and over again."
Food for thought: are you a writer first--or a storyteller? Do you see the distinction? How do you approach the art of storytelling?