Some stories are made for performance. Some tales need the feeling, the fire of life behind the words, spoken out loud and even worked along with movements. This is the theatre nerd coming out of me of course. But as a writer I do sometimes struggle with the difference between translating tales onto paper, and wishing for a campfire to spew my yarns forth as if spinning a web from my mouth.
Captivating an audience isn’t about book sales. For me it’s sharing the passion a character has to meet their fate or the sympathy we feel for one when the story hits them hard. I love sitting in a sunbeam allowing the warmth of a book to mingle with the sunshine as I stimulate my mind, but not all stories are meant for solitude.
I hated READING Shakespeare in school. His works are PLAYS. They were never meant to be read in one’s head to be reported on later. Yuck!
Plays have always been meant for the stage. Even reading parts in turn is much better than sitting alone going through a script meant for many different actors.
But what about the oral tradition? What about stories that aren’t quite plays, but definitely don’t translate well into books? Those tend to be my specialty. Of course, why wouldn’t they be. The Gods seem set on laughing at me as I wander between worlds constantly.
I have worked on building enough skills that I can flit between the different forms of storytelling pretty well. My acting days may be over, but I still enjoy the look on my children’s faces when they beg me to tell them a story when we’re out walking or sitting before a campfire.
Some of my ramblings don’t make it to memory, some do. The ones that matter always stick with us. Modern society is so obsessed with the physical manifestation of words that a lot of people seem to have lost a lot of connection to the meanings, the correlations that these magickal thought translations hold between feelings and logic.
The oral tradition combats that. It keeps the ways of old alive. If I could I would wander from town to town spilling the contents of my imagination to those who would offer my food and board in exchange, but that would prove difficult in our over connected, yet closed off lives.
It saddens me to a degree, but then it also makes me cling to certain tales that embody the epitome of what is not lost. Some say that ebooks will replace printed books, I disagree but could see it happening in the next 200-300 years. Even so, printed literature has not killed live storytelling. People will always find a way to paint images from their minds through their tongues.
Being the crazed over-thinker I am (like most writers) I could see a time where we become so dependent on technology that when it fails, civilization would be devastated. It has happened before and it will happen again. (Love deducing theories from the ciphers of history-and yes I do believe Atlantis existed)
What does this have to do with writing, verses performing stories? EVERYTHING!
Even if all the books burnt up (horrid to think of), Even if Snake Pliskin hit 666 on the little device that knocked out every satellite and we lost a LOT of what helps us connect, we will always have storytelling.
Knowing this makes my job more rewarding, but also leaves me conflicted. I love what I do. I write for a living, and I write for pleasure. But storytelling is where my heart really lies, I don’t care how the story gets out so long as it reaches the audience in the proper form.
The more I get into publishing and get my works out there, the more I realize that some tales are not meant to be written down; some must live to keep the oral tradition alive. My children are the true fuel for that. The look on a little one’s face when enthralled by a good story is pure magick. They sit with wide eyes and gasp at all the right moments. their chubby cheeks puff out when they laugh and sometimes you have to sit real close and hug them during the scary parts.
Children make the best audiences. And they are our best coaches. My daughters begged me to write down one of my oral tales yesterday. I’ve told it so many times I was exceptionally nervous about locking the words in place, but this particular piece has enough meat that I decided it could work as a written story.
Once you’ve performed a work with the storyteller’s gaze enough times, sitting before a lifeless piece of paper to capture it seems cruel. Like taming a wild horse, or ensnaring a great whale. After fumbling with my ideals for about an hour or two, I was finally able to write out a beautiful children’s book. This one is very dear to me and despite my reservations, I will be happy when she gets published.
I did warn my daughters of certain titles that I refuse to write down for them though. Because no matter how well this hunt went, you have to leave some stories wild.