17.11.17

On the Profit of Storytelling

 

I have had moments over the past couple of months when I've wondered why I post stories here for free instead of collecting them in a book to sell. I don't really wonder for long. There's such a difference between writing a story for a weblog and one for a book. The stories I put here are little wild things. Mostly they take a few minutes to write and I barely edit them. They are roadside flowers rather than roses; they are thoughts spun into tales instead of essays. Because of this, there is a joy in writing them, a freedom that allows me to simply have fun with storytelling, rather than labouring over the craft of it. 

One of the stories has for some reason inexplicable to me become quite popular, and been read in the past couple of weeks by perhaps as many people as would buy a published storybook in a year. That's lovely, but honestly not as lovely receiving letters from people telling me how my stories, books, or poems have affected them. I even had a request from a school to use my work in their senior class. Please, please don't think I tell you this to boast, I only want to explain the fulfillment it brings me, the peace and happiness, the sense of purpose. Some days when I am out in the world and it's all very hard, there are people in suits and high heeled shoes striding past, talking on phones, doing important things, and I'm feeling small and useless and wishing I'd just stayed at home, a quiet voice inside my heart will remind me that a story I wrote meant something to someone, and that gives me such strength.

It's hard sharing all that, especially as a shy person, because it really does sound conceited. I don't meant it to. Obviously, if my writing was really good, I'd be a far bigger name by now. And it's quite rare for one of my blogposts to become very popular. So I have no conceit. Only I thought it would be interesting? honest? helpful? to share a little of how it feels to be a writer whose words are read after a whole lifetime of wishing for that to happen. It seems to me writers seldom talk about these kinds of things. I'm not really in a position where my experience counts as much, but even so, there it is.

I will probably never be famous, or have thousands of followers, or be liked by famous writers, or be in the papers. But none of that is why I write. I write because I am a writer. I think in story. It's never about considering profit or markets or whatever. It's just about being in the world.


illustration by walter crane


9 comments:

  1. 'It's about being in the world.' Love that line - although your stories are always out of this world and ethereal.

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  2. Far from being conceited, this is beautiful and heartening.

    And I don't believe that your not being a big name in the writing world has anything to do with the quality of your writing, and a lot more to do with the machinery of marketing and promoting. You're among a number of writers I read who are creating exquisite work, quietly. Surprising wildflowers that spring up in the crevices and cracks. And there are roses here too.

    And not that I wish to impose, (because I understand the freedom and joy you derive from writing here in this way); but I can still see many of these stories in a collection of fairytales. Medicine for the world we're in now; for weary, sorrowful, unhomed, hopeful hearts. xx

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    1. Thank you for such kind words. They mean so very much to me. <3 To be honest, my heart wishes most of all to write a collection of medicinal tales, along the lines of the ones I've shared here but more carefully written. I know however people prefer novels...

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  3. I don’t think that there is any real equation between how well-known a thing is, and how good it is...

    I also think that really living one’s life, rather than rushing from thing to thing and never getting to feel or see any of it deeply, is a tremendous endeavor in itself, and greatly under-rated. (However shiny and well- compensated the rushing may be. And often, it’s not.)

    I find story as medicine especially profound; all arts can be medicine. And there is such need! If you wish to write a collection of shorter stories, rather than a novel, by all means do! Think of them as narrative poems, perhaps... your heart knows what is best for you. And perhaps, for the world. As you say, we write because we are writers. That is reason enough to write as one pleases.

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    1. I so agree with you about the tremendous endeavour of simply living one's life for real. Not only is it a worthy thing to do ... the most worthy thing, certainly of more value than a thousand "likes", but it takes courage to do it these days.

      You have given me food for thought, thank you :-)

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  4. Your 'way' is perfect, for you. Exactly what we all, "should" strive for. Our personal best 'way.'

    And of course you are not bragging! Don't even consider that! You are simply, not one to brag.

    Even though it is quite fine, to tell how feed-back, can do so much, for a person. For any person. It used to be called "getting strokes." Any time anyone says something nice, to us.

    For a writer, it would come in the form of appreciation for their writing. For a blogger, it would come, in comments on their blog. For a person simply walking down a street, it could come, from someone taking the moment to tell them, that their hair looked lovely today.

    Now that I am a Crone, and not so self-conscious, I don't just 'think' how lovely someone's hair looks... I tell them. Like passing out a reason, for a quick smile...

    And-I-ramble...

    Gentle hugs,
    Luna Crone

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    1. I'm glad it's no longer called getting strokes, I always hated that phrase! ;-)

      I am like you, I don't hesitate to give people compliments, including unwary strangers in the street. :-)

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  5. You're one of the most beautiful writers I know :) And please, I do hope you follow your heart and write what you want, even if people often prefer novels. I'll read anything you write. I love the small stories you're sharing here. They are like medicine.

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