23 February 2011

The Core Art

Why write? Really...why do we write? Does the world need another story - another mystery, sci fi epic, literary blockbuster? I don't think so. I'm a maniac reader and I know that if no one wrote another book and I lived to be a thousand I'd still have books that I just didn't have time for. Books that I wanted to read but didn't have time in my thousand year life to read.
We write because we need to tell stories to make sense of the world. Writing is how we work with narrative but the neat thing is that we don't need to write to tell stories. I think that is what writers and readers are forgetting when they get all het up over e-books and the decline of publishing.
I was at a dinner party the other night. There were eight of us there and when I brought up e-books you'd think I'd mentioned eating children as appetizers.
One guy (who I adore) said that he had just read some old book that was kept together with an elastic because it had been read and leant out so much.  And how could that be ever replaced by e-books? And how could we lend them to each other etc...and the rest of the gang carried on - the smell of books, the feel of books, authors not getting their due and on and on. I'm not going to digress too far into this topic - just read Helen over at Straight from Hel - she's always got the best debates going on about the publishing world.
When I was thinking about the kerfuffle later I had a vision. In my vision troubadours, story tellers, minstrels, bards, gathered around a fire and raised their voices in shock and dismay. Who would wait for them to come to the castle, the town square, the marketplace when these new fangled printed stories came out? They would be out of work, out of their art. And the new form wouldn't be good because it would be so static - no influence from the audience causing the teller, the performer, the musician, to change the story slightly to favour the crowd. How could that be good?
Writing isn't the core art. No, telling stories is the core art. We don't need typewriters, computers, not even paper and ink. We need nothing but our words. The ones that live in our minds.
I like to take photographs - why here's one now!!!

To have this photo show up here I need less gear than I used to - just a digital camera and a wire to connect it to the computer...oh and a program that I use to work with my photos and storage. Taking photos isn't too gear dependent even though folks would have you believe it is. Drawing is less - a pencil like one of those in my Chap mug will do - turn over my manuscript and you have some paper. Paper is a technological wonder though and gee so are pencils when you look into it. And to be good at drawing or taking photos takes a fair bit of practice - some diligence and possibly guidance. To paint with oils - more stuff, more guidance, more practice. Telling stories needs all the guidance and all the practice BUT it doesn't need gear. Zip. None. It is the meta-art, the core art, the mother art.
Don't forget to give it its due and don't worry about the technology so much. Just keep practising and connecting with other story tellers. Stories will get told. Trust me.
Jan Morrison, story teller


Amber T. Smith said...

You're so right - excellent post! I only wish I could rely on just my mouth to get a story told AND edited. *sighs*

And wow, your desk is SO organized!

Jan Morrison said...

Yes, well - it had a photo shoot so it got gussied up. That isn't its normal state. Oh no.

Jan Morrison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jan Morrison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hart Johnson said...

Oh, this was great, Jan--it's true--it's about the story. Somehow though, my brain doesn't work fast enough to be an oral storyteller... or maybe I am shy. That wouldn't be me, in any case, but I love the idea of them protesting over it.

Natasha said...

So true, so very very true.
It hovers at the edge of my consciousness everytime I tell my kids a bedtime story. Unfortunately, that thought soon gets diverted by the currents of "if you can tell it, why not write it, you lazy not-enough-hours-in-a-day person".
But you know what, there are stories we tell that are more loved that many of my books- stories that have got embelished with details added because of questions that needed answering. Stories that change ever so slightly, so you have familiarity and yet not sameness.
Yes, telling stories IS the core art. Thank you, Jan, for reminding me of the basic truth.

Unknown said...

I often will "speak" a story aloud in the shower since there is no one there to criticize. I am quite shy and don't like to tell stories to others except for writing.

But I absolutely agree, telling stories is the core art!

Unknown said...

What is kerfuffle?

Sue said...

Great post. I don't think books will be replaced by ebooks entirely. It's just a different medium, and whether we like it or not, the technology is already here. It'll be an interesting journey to see how it's moulded to a shape authors are comfortable with.

For Chary, kerfuffle is used here (Aust) as well. I think it's of British heritage. Means noisy fuss or argument, but is softer with little sense of antagonism. Is that how you use it Jan?