Perhaps 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.
Where were you during the earthquake? Where were you during Hurricane Irene? Did you lose power? Do you remember seeing the World Trade Center towers fall down? Do you remember when John Lennon was killed? Martin Luther King, Jr.? JFK? Bobby Kennedy? Do you remember exactly where you were when you heard that Jerry Garcia had died? Osama bin Laden?
Memory is a funny thing. We spin stories to make our memories stick. This year has held a lot of endings for me, deaths, graduations, moving away and onward. I don’t much like it. Six months after my sweet Grandma died I still miss her terribly. Two and a half months after losing my father-in-law I still can’t believe he is gone. My daughter left for college this week. I didn’t shed a tear though. It didn’t feel like an ending to me but rather an exciting, glorious beginning.
I was eating a Greek salad in a diner during the earthquake. They were filming a television show on the street outside the window. I mostly slept through Hurricane Irene, but then that bitch stole my electricity for 5 days and created so much cleanup work. I watched on my friend’s television when the Twin Towers fell, talking on the phone with my husband, who watched from a rooftop in Brooklyn. As the building fell I felt the world change. I was horrified. I was a freshman in college when John Lennon died. I was a baby when MLK was taken from us, when the Kennedy’s were assassinated. I was in the Hamptons with my baby and people I didn’t know when I heard the news that Jerry had died. I cried. I loved Jerry. I heard about Osama bin Laden on the radio. It was surreal.
What stories do you tell? What do you remember?