On Writing: Why Story Is Necessary

0527_story-800x480Perhaps the horrific events in Paris last month were just the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I’ve simultaneously felt like crawling in a cave to ponder my loss for words, and clambering up on a soap box to scream and yell at the world. I wasn’t even able to write a simple submission advice blog post for picture book writers without spurting out a micro-rant first. So I asked the Twitterverse for blogging suggestions and my client Katherine Sparrow (hi Katie!) responded with “Hmm… why story is necessary and what it does in these terrible times? At least, that’s what I want answered.” I’m with Katie. I want that answered, too. So, I’ve been thinking about it. And then I did some Googling (of course).

Here’s something from Psychology Today suggesting that storytelling is necessary to human survival. Here’s something lovely from the always interesting Brain Pickings site: Neil Gaiman on How Stories Last (I can listen to Neil talk forever.) And here are some tasty short videos on Why Stories Matter (not surprising that I particularly like the one with the typewriter the best).

I put the question to my clients and some of them had time to answer. So for the rest of the week I’m putting up posts from clients who were kind enough to delve into the question and had time to get stuff down on paper about it. Stay tuned for posts by J.M. Rinker, Jodi McKay, Elaine Kiely Kearns, and Joe McGee.

Please share in the comments below why you feel stories are necessary and what they do in these terrible times.



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6 responses to “On Writing: Why Story Is Necessary

  1. Michael Davin

    The introduction of fantasy intwined with reality, the magic of credible and incredible allows the mind to wander and question and invent with anticipation awaiting the outcome
    We live in a world where factual evidence is always needed as a proof documented reason of authority, black and white and no grey arias, that’s not good enough for people there’s no means of escape, we need a tropical island to laze around to explore whilst living in a concrete / confrontational world
    I think Teachers in schools need to teach children to read, understand, learn to question and elaborate outcomes and most of all be nice people

  2. Stories show us what we care about, what is important to us. Then we keep those truths next to our hearts and live what we care about.

  3. I think about this a lot. To me, stories are important, crucial, because they connect us to one another, and by sharing our stories we make ourselves vulnerable to one another which helps us understand one another and the human condition. Ultimately stories can enlighten and lighten the load and make us feel less alone in the world. Such an important post.

  4. I can’t recall the exact Radiolab episode but the theme was memory, and how each memory we have is actually a recollection of the last memory of that original event. From original event to present memory, we have “remembered” that dozens of times, which is why details change over time in each imperfect memory. Out of that came a phrase in the episode to the effect of, “Our lives are the stories we tell ourselves.”

    Story as fundamental to our existence as breathing. From child to adult, we have replaced almost every cell. There are biologic markers (DNA, fingerprints, retinal patterns) that have changed little, but perhaps more vital is the unbroken story we tell ourselves. In that rare case of total amnesia (maybe not so rare in fiction), the story is ruptured even though the biologic markers are the same. Story is a precious visceral urge. We have no choice but to share them.

  5. Separation between life/reality and story is artificial. We live storied lives. We think and conceive in words, picture, and plot. In some religions, word (Logos) is the original life-bringer. From psychotherapy to entertainment, “story” is part and parcel of human life, of healing, of history, of *wholeness*. Life without story isn’t life — it is dimensionless and fleeting. Life AS story is palpable and eternal.

  6. Thanks, Linda. I can’t wait to check out these links. We make sense of the world through stories; we share our history, values, important selves through story; and it’s what makes us human.