on storytelling

where do stories come from?

somewhere deep within? somewhere very distant? some rush of all external context & conversation & chance meeting & weather forecast? some communal well of pooled cultural knowledge and heritage and zeitgeist? some lucky collision of intent and happenstance?

who writes? who is heard? what stories do we tell? why do we tell them?

i don’t have the answers. i only have the questions. sometimes i think the point of a question is not to answer it, but to ask it, and keep asking. sometimes the point of a question is to remove the need for the question. or to provoke other, more important questions.

where do stories come from?

how do you explain the accelerating expansion of infinity? how do you explain dark matter? how do we explain absence when it can only be defined by presence? or presence by absence? how can we find words for everything and nothing? how can we make sense of the absurdity of the world, of marginalisation, of grief, of violence, of joy, of the bizarre intricacies of daily life, of the strangeness of existence at all?

where do stories come from?

when i write i pull something vulnerable out of myself and give it to the world. as writers we pull from ourselves and we pull from the world.

jeanette winterson phrased this beautifully in her novel Weight, a take on the myth of atlas and heracles:

autobiography is not important. authenticity is important. the writer must fire herself through the text, be the molten stuff that welds together disparate elements. i believe there is always exposure, vulnerability, in the writing process, which is not to say it is either confessional or memoir. simply, it is real… [consisting] of the inner life, of the sublime, of the poetic, of the non-material, of the contemplative.

…all we can do is keep telling the stories, hoping that someone will hear. hoping that in the noisy echoing nightmare of endlessly breaking news and celebrity gossip, other voices might be heard, speaking of the life of the mind and the soul’s journey.

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