Remembering the Storyteller

Oct 27, 2010

In the crazy-competitive, market-yourself, write-the-breakout-novel-or-fail world of becoming an author, it's easy to forget why the heck you're doing this in the first place. But the other day, a little memory from my first volunteer trip to Ghana popped into my head, and I remembered why I work so hard in my writing.

I sat on a plastic chair under a mango tree, watching fishing boats sail the Gulf of Guinea. My four-year-old host sister dragged a chair across the yard and placed it right next to mine.

"Sistah Shallee," she said, climbing into the chair, "come, I will tell you a story."

"Okay, Nananua," I said. "Tell me a story."

"Once upon a time..." she paused, looking at me expectantly. When I didn't say anything, she said, "Sistah Shallee, when I say once upon a time, you must say 'time, time.' Okay? Once upon a time..."

I sat back in my chair and smiled. "Time, time."

"...there was a very, very, very, very, very bad boy..."

She went on to tell me of this boy and how he disobeyed his mother by wandering into the forest, where he was cursed by a witch. There were quite a few "very, very's," and sometimes the boy was momentarily a girl instead, but I clapped for her when it was over.

It made me smile as I remembered her brown eyes getting wider with excitement as she told her tale. She had created a wonderful story, and she wanted to share it.

That, I remembered, is exactly what I do. I imagine a story, or take one from my life, and it's wonderful enough to make my eyes go wide. Wonderful enough that I have to write it. Like Nananua, I am a storyteller at heart, and what is a storyteller if she doesn't share her stories?

That, I remembered, is why I write and rewrite and blog and research agents, striving for publication. Because I am a storyteller.

So, my friends, now I'm curious. What makes you do what you do? What gives you your passion?


C. N. Nevets said...

Awesome! Exactly how I think of writing, and not enough authors remember this. Your story really brings it to life. Thanks!

Meredith said...

That's such great inspiration--I definitely need to remember that I'm in this business to tell a good story.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

Great story...of the storyteller by a storyteller.

I've been struggling with my WIP in this way...I'm into it and know I need to write this one (I've been putting it off for years), but I'm worried it's not "blockbuster" enough...I need to remember that it's my eyes that need to widen first. I can worry about the rest in revisions.

Eric W. Trant said...

Why else would you write!

Not for the money. Some published authors make money, but they're in the top 90-95th percentile of published authors, and only the top 1-2% make big money.

And that's not counting unpublished authors, the micro-pubs, self-pub'd, free-pub'd, our fellow bloggers, and so forth.

I can't imagine anyone doing this for any other reason than they love doing it, than for the reason you write.

We howl for the sake of howling, and who wants to howl alone!

- Eric

Abby Minard said...

That was very sweet!

I write because I want to make someone feel the same way I did, reading my favorite fantasy novels. I want someone to be able to escape to another world for a couple hours, and become friends with my characters. Even if I never get published, I still love to write and imagine what it'd be like for a teen to read my book.

Anonymous said...

Great image of a story teller. i do it becaue I love telling things that might change me or help me to imagine things that aren't possible.

Colene Murphy said...

So sweetly awesome!

Melissa said...

I'm definitely a stroyteller as well. I've always told I'm just putting them down on paper!

What a sweet story!

M Pax said...

That is a wonderful story you just told. I very much enjoyed it. :D

Writing keeps me sane. Helps me cope.

David P. King said...

I haven't the slightest idea what makes me a storyteller, but I always have been. Since age five, I've made stuff up (and I thank my mother for secretly writing them down). That, and being a storyteller keeps me busy, out of trouble, and allows me to share what matters most to me with others. Not in it for the money, but for the love of the word.

alexia said...

What an awesome story! Children are such great teachers sometimes :) My passion... I have been a writer for as long as I can remember. I was writing poems and little stories when I was like six. I started my first novel when I was about 11. I wrote lots of others (never finished) in my teens. I guess I just always knew a writer was what I was. And I do want to be published, to share with lots of other people. It's just who I am.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I love your story. I'm not so sure why I write. It's an important form of expression and 'wonderment' for me, an exploration of the 'what if's

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

what a beautiful story! That's why we write. Because we want people to read what we've created. That gives us joy.

Theresa Milstein said...

Thank you for sharing that story.

I have two children and work with children and teens, so I've always wanted to keep their interest teaching. I've always loved writing, so once I got brave enough to try, it was a logical extension.

If you have a chance, stop by my blog "Substitute Teacher's Saga". I'm hosting a Halloween Haunting from 10/28-11/1. Enter to win a prize.

Janet Johnson said...

Great story! And how neat to have volunteered in Ghana. I'd love to hear more about that.

I write because I love getting lost in other worlds. :)

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