Friday, August 17, 2012

Storytelling as Part of a Community

The writing lifestyle takes a certain degree of solitude.  So it has been interesting to see discussions sprouting up about writing as it relates to experiences, the degrees of socialization that are necessary in contributing to the formation of a story, and the idea of originality in the creative process.

I mentioned originality in fairy tales briefly before.  My questions prompted A.L. Loveday to assert more or less that there isn't such thing as complete originality, and that there needn't be.  

A similar sentiment was expressed recently on The Dark Forest.  Megan notes that the "remakes" popular in the box office for the past decade or so are only a continuation of the folkloric tradition; that fairy stories are "the most ancient stories speaking to people today."
artist unknown
This leads me to think the idea of originality can be tied into the idea of solitude.  If the Modernists led the movement in originality, a thing by its very nature presupposing standing without company in the midst of others, then the opposite is true of the folk storytellers.  Their aim wasn't originality.  If they had any aim at all, it was to fulfill a role that was an essential part of the community; a role still essential today, as we see it in the career of a fiction author.

These stories, as self-contained and independent bodies, are conscious of coming from part of a larger Story (or mythos).  So much in the telling of a fairy tale is presupposed--once upon a time, the rule of three, simplistic moral extremes.  So much in the hearing of a fairy tale is taken for granted--it's any and every time, three is a sacred number, youth are good and the aged are bad because old age draws us nearer to the borders of that "undiscovere'd country."

So it appears in the case of fairy tales that the creative process is something that cannot be strictly isolated from a sense of community.

We should tell stories to each other.  Our stories matter, and they sustain us.

What do you think?



  1. Even as an introvert, I have to like this. :)

    I'm not a big fan of originality, at least not of concept; the uniqueness is in the telling, not so much in the tale. At least, for fairy tale fans.

  2. This is interesting!

    I think that the story-teller, of any sort, exists both in isolation and in community. He (or she) has a role within the community - to tell the tales that teach and that raise us up, but it is a solitary role, similar to that of a priest or of a prophet. All require community to exist, but all also require an aloneness in which to give their message originality (which I would see as being a part of the author's personhood, because we all see things differently, and present them differently. The originality of the storyteller is as essential as his community.

    But no part of the creative process can exist completely cut off from community or it withers. Keeping a diary is different from telling a story, one is in isolation, the other in community..Does that make sense, my little community of over-involved extended family is chatting in the background ;)

    1. Yes, that makes perfect sense! And thank you for that image as of poet-as-priest-and-prophet. I certainly agree with you, now that the idea is presented to me.


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