Each human life is a unique and unprecedented existence- every person woven by materials, experiences, and settings that are altogether new and unrivaled.
Just reflect on that. People have similarities, of course; they may even have the same blood. But even so, each human’s design, genetic code, and social construction is unlike any other’s. Some may argue that there are no unique humans because there are no unique character traits- this argument means practically nothing in the end. Sure, there are universally acknowledged traits such as agreeableness, creativity, mechanical instincts, athletic abilities, and many more. However, this does not take away from the fact that character traits always come in unique combinations and styles. Why? Because no one else is you! No one else is shaped by your own experiences- academic, social, and familial. No one else knows precisely how your gifts influence your life or how your weaknesses hold you back in certain areas.
Along with your “you” traits come an impressive variety of life stories. Talk to an older man or woman for any length of time, and you find this out rather quickly. You learn that their stories and recollections are a vital part of what makes them individuals! It’s necessary and beneficial for them to tell their stories from life. When I hear stories told by my pappy or other older people I know, I feel wonder at these tales from a different era. I feel interested in learning more about their families, careers, and love for specific hobbies. Often I wish I would come up with more questions ahead of time when I talk to these important people in my life.
Every person you walk by on the street has a story within themselves; writers are no exception. They just usually experience stories in a much different way. I guess you could say that stories work overtime for them. This is because these particular types of individuals thrive by expressing themselves with the written word. Fiction writers exercise their imagination and inspiration by creating stories from scratch and by reading other wonderful stories in the process. Investigative or informative writers exercise their curiosity by research, interview, and/or reflection. Poets and songwriters exercise their emotions through rhyme and/or purposeful paragraph construction. One thing sets these people apart: the way their minds gravitate towards these expressions and the need to just sit down and spill their thoughts, feelings, and creations on paper.
You see, dedicated writers take their stories seriously. They bake their stories like a master chef, intricately checking the ingredients and facets of their tale until they’re just right. They walk, talk, and think in intriguing fiction scenarios, accessing the depths and heights of their creativity. They study their characters and get to know them one-on-one. What are their likes or dislikes? Do they have any virtues? What about flaws or mistakes? They mold new plots, new adventures, and new meanings that live on in their writing. These are who storytellers are.
When we think back, how many of the works that impacted us were mere stories in their rawest forms?
A story can be widespread and era-changing, such as Charles Dickens’s novels of hardship and perseverance. Dickens specifically tailored his work for the times, with a mission to introduce readers to the reality of London’s orphans and the poverty that they underwent. A story can also be as poetic and philosophical as an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, detailing the shallow life of Mr. Jay Gatsby and the hollowness of vain riches. Stories can also be as romantic and humorous as a Jane Austen novel, shining a light on characters’ many differences, silly antics, and touches of sarcasm. Or, perhaps, it could be the simple writing of an obscure blogger or author you happen to stumble upon that said things to make you think and sigh in agreement. How many of these works began as a simple idea? I’ll let you in on something: all of them! Even if you do not delve into the classics, most of your favorite Hulu or Netflix shows have a writer inspired by a mere story they wished to express.
A storyteller’s goal is to paint a precise and vibrant picture with words. They write because they have something to say. They write because they yearn to make people smile, laugh, cry, think, and feel all the range of ethos, pathos, and logos that are out there.
Stories push us forward in action over our own lives.
When we read J. R. R. Tolkien or C. S. Lewis novels filled with adventure, don’t you want to grab a suitcase and go on one, as well? When you read political thrillers, don’t you feel some urge to change or bring about justice? When you read a Jane Austen romance, don’t you notice your heart tugged and your vocabulary widened? These things change us and give us a range of living we would not have if we did not pursue stories. One of my favorite quotes is by George R. R. Martin, who says, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” What an accurate quote when compared to the reality of being a writer and a reader.
Stories bring people together.
The amount of times I’ve bonded with people over loving the same stories is ridiculous. Think about it- shows, movies, magazines, books- they all have a writer behind them.
Stories allow us to appreciate or make sense of the beautiful, meaningful, difficult, and comedic.
Had a tough week? Perhaps you need to take an evening and escape into a land where there are no bills on the table, no difficult personal problems to solve, or no one demanding your utmost attention or services. There are times and places for these adult realities, but there are also moments where sweet peace are needed, and it is my wholehearted opinion that there is nothing better than a bubble bath and a good plotline to enjoy at the end of a long week. The books, music, and shows you choose will have a profound impact on your perception of life, let alone reading and storytelling! The right stories and authors allow us to become invested in a new world unlike our own, and it will change us inevitably for the better. These worlds are crafted by adventurous, romantic, beautiful, comedic word combinations. And if you play your cards right- you might just be fortunate enough to find a new favorite author that you can take with you throughout life.
What I always tell students is, “if you do not like books, then you probably have not found the genre for you yet! Keep looking, and you will be amazed.” If you don’t like reading with your eyeballs, maybe try audiobooks. I have learned so much more and get more done around the house when I have an audiobook going. (Not sponsored by Audible, but if you like me, Audible, hit me up.)
This week, here is your call to action…
- Be more aware of all the different creative writings that you soak in from your entertainment. Think about what it took to write these shows, books, blogs, or articles.
- Think about your relationship to storytelling. How can you better incorporate quality writing into your life? (Hint: some stories are worth your time, and some stories are not).
- If reading is unrealistic in your schedule, look at all of the unique options on Audible, or perhaps find some reliable blogs that you enjoy.
2013 (Copyright 2011) A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R. Martin, Series: A Song of Ice and Fire, Quote Page 495, (Mass Market Paperback), Bantam Books: An Imprint of Random House Publishing Group. (Amazon Look Inside)