Than you to everyone for your suggestions at the end of last week’s petulant whine appeal for ideas. I’ve got an idea for a few different articles based on suggestions, but I thought the first one to address should be something that Rob asked, as it seems to be one of the first things to address – why do we write?
Well, I can’t really speak for anyone else, I can only say why I write, and give thoughts on what I perceive to be the general urge to write.
All life is story and myth. We tell stories about ourselves every day, in gossip, in conversation, in blogs and emails and telephone calls. “You’ll never guess who I met”, “did you hear about Sandy”, “I’m so excited I just have to tell you….”
Our popular entertainment consists almost exclusively of stories. Drama, comedy, horror, fantasy, science fiction, romance on television, DVD, the movies, radio, online (even books!).
Even current affairs and news is a form of storytelling, depending on the point of view you want to put across from supposedly objective events (or in some cases events cut from whole cloth). The news is myth in the making, before passing into the realms of history, myths that are generally accepted.
Religion too comes down to storytelling, an esoteric myth to history’s exoteric myths.
Stories impart essential information, warnings about dangers, and explanations for how things are. Humans are curious, curious about everything, and stories are how we explain things. From reminiscing about our greatest hunts and warnings of the dangers lurking in the dark, to how we came to set foot on the moon, our existence is told and retold through stories.
I think this urge exists within us all, but it appears to be stronger in some than in others. We can all tell a story, but some seem able to take any event and make a tale of it, to reach into their own minds and create realities, universalise emotions and themes, and weave them into a coherent whole that entertains and inspires others.
Society has always had its bards and storytellers, just as it has always had warriors, hunters, priests, scientists and healers. Anyone could be any of these things, but we are drawn to what we have an aptitude for.
I believe that I have an aptitude for storytelling. I have always taken events and wove them into something more, there are vivid images that bubble through my mind, insistent that they need to released, to be told and retold. At times it seems that the ideas are independent of me, that I am the conduit through which they can appear, to be given life through being read by others.
It is an urge that burns away in the mind, sometimes quietly, sometimes violently, and that can only be satisfied through the telling.
I write not simply because I enjoy it, because in truth sometimes it is horrible. Lonely, painful, frustrating (and more of that another day). I write because it drives me, because telling a story is part of who I am, and because I will not be happy until the stories have been told.
I write because I choose to. I write because I have to. I write because the story is part of me, and I am part of the story.