Friday, January 26, 2018

Why Do People Write? Why Do People Read?

I was just sitting here thinking abut stories. Why do people tell stories? Why do some people write stories? Why do some people enjoy reading stories?

Anywhere you go you will most likely find people telling stories. Life is full of story opportunities. "I was walking down the street when this guy came running out of the bank waving a gun, jumped in a blue van and sped off." Well, they might not all be as dramatic as that, they might be as mundane as, "I'd just put fresh sheets on the bed and the cat hacked up a hairball on them!" It's how we talk to one another. We talk in brief stories. There is back and forth routine conversation between us in order to communicate wants and needs or exchange information, but then, while sitting around after dinner, or at a family get together, or while having a few drinks with friends...what do people do? They tell stories.

Stores are what connect us. We can relate to them. Our stories may vary a little, but we share universal experiences by telling our stories.

What is social media? It's a big storytelling engine that allows people to tell their stories to a larger audience than they have in their own immediate real life social circle. When scrolling through the hundreds of posts appearing daily as if by magic, I often find video clips, articles, long posts about something that's happened that someone wants to share...they're all stories. People telling stories.

Some of us are compelled to make up stories- we write fiction. Why? To entertain ourselves and other people. I thoroughly enjoy telling stories in print. I like to throw open a door and invite people into my imagination. I like to give them a little escape from the ordinary and the mundane. I like to make people laugh and feel good. Sometimes I give the reader a little scare, a chilly little thrill...whatever. I make up stories in my head all the time. I used to tell myself stories when I was a kid lying in bed trying to fall asleep. I still do that. My mind is constantly full of stuff buzzing to quiet the buzz, I pull a thread of a story and start knitting it like a scarf of words- just concentrating on that one story. I can see it taking shape in my mind. Some nights I have to keep swatting other stories back into the maelstrom swirling in my brain...on nights like that I sometimes get up and pace until exhaustion sends me back to bed and the stories sigh and go quiet. I imagine my muse, finger to his lips shushing the clamoring stories so I can get some sleep. (Do you see? There s a story right there!)

Some people like to read. I like to read. I've been an avid reader all my life. Why do I read? I read to lose myself in another world. I read to meet new characters and watch their lives unfold. I read to escape the stress of my real life. I read for enjoyment and entertainment. I read to "hear" the stories in my head. I really don't like to watch TV because it goes too fast. I like to savor a story and really experience it. When I watch TV I feel like I'm being assaulted by too much, too fast. I want to look at the background scenery, the objects behind the actors, the wallpaper, the woodwork, the books in the bookcase. I get frustrated  when the camera angle constantly shifts back and forth- I lose focus, get annoyed and walk away in disgust. I prefer British TV because the pace is slower. They talk slower and don't shout at one another. I remember when John picked out the new TV. I sat across the long length of the living room and tried to watch a program, but my eyes didn't know where to look- I couldn't look at the whole screen because I felt like  was missing something somewhere. I don't know what to look at, what to focus on. In print there are nowhere near as many fast moving images barraging my brain.

Well, that's just me. TV and even movies generally disappoint me. I can play video games because I can control how fast I move. I can stop and look all around whatever world I'm in. I'm a visual person. I absorb the scenery. It infuriates me when my husband plays an action/adventure game. He steams full speed ahead and never stops to look around. Game designers build whole worlds and he runs headlong through it at a blur. I like to wander around and admire what they've constructed.

Then it's back to the story.

Anyway, back to the point- we're hearing stories every day whether we're waiting at the bus stop, watching the news or a sports, waiting in line at the supermarket or takeout place...everyone has a story to tell. I came home last night with the story of another accident at the end of the road at the underpass- flashing lights, ambulance, two flatbed wreckers, silver SUV, small blue sedan...that was last night's dinner story. Kelly told about something that happened at work. John told about a job interview he had. We shared stories from our lives.

Then I sat down and wrote fiction.

Maybe someone will read it one day.

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