250 Things You Should Know About Writing, 99 Cents, Chuck Wendig, Damned Spectacular Feet, Hawaii, Honolulu, Joanna Penn, Lisa Cron, Memoir Mondays, storytelling tradition, T.K. Marnell, terribleminds, The Creative Penn, Umberto Eco, Victoria Mixon, Wired For Story, Writer Unboxed, writing
Writerly Wednesdays are devoted to all things…writerly. I may share a favorite writerly nook or share some new found tool, gadget, widget or app. More commonly, Wednesdays are about my creative process and my adventures in defining my writing career.
Next week will mark the fifth month of posts on Writing Space. Thank you for celebrating those milestones and victories with me. Thank you for commiserating in my struggles. Thank you for the encouragement. And thank you most for the engagement. You have made the journey so much richer for your involvement.
Storytellers vs Writers vs Authors
I was born into a storytelling tradition. Check out my Memoir Mondays and you will find a lineage of teachers, preachers and salesmen of one stripe or another, in other words, storytellers. Storytellers do not subscribe, as a rule, to elitist notions of who can take on the mantle. People of all cultures throughout the ages have told stories. No one told them that they couldn’t. In fact, growing scientific evidence indicates that it is essential to being human.
Just one resource for this new paradigm is Lisa Cron’s new book Wired For Story. Click here for her interview by Joanna Penn, of the Creative Penn. Yes, it is worth it. I must admit that I do love Umberto Eco. Otherwise, I agree with the discussion in full.
Notice that we are natural storytellers, not writers or authors. In fact, I have read some beautiful prose that lacked a satisfactory story. The elitists view is that words matter. I admit it. I love a well-crafted phrase and a clever term, but they are not in themselves story. Kill your darlings has been the shorthand for the writer’s indulgence with her own brilliance. Craft should serve the story. Period.
A Writers Unboxed Shoeboxing
In my world, storytellers rule. Writers and authors should to kneel before the story. Which is why I was both charmed and bothered by Victoria Mixon’s article in Monday’s Writers Unboxed, Damn Spectacular Feet.
If the story’s the thing, it should matter only secondarily whether the feet are spectacular or well-heeled. The feet are a vehicle, a tool. Too often writers become so enamored by their own skills that they lose sight of their true purpose, story. Instead of correcting their course, I hear groans of the audience not understanding. Somehow they were being too sophisticated for their readers and that would be their reader’s fault…when?
My Response In The Comment Section
“If Mickie D’s and the like can hawk cowpies in a burger bun for 99 cents, I don’t see a problem in selling pictures of cowpie covered toes for that price. When banks charge you $10 a month fee to view your own statement from your smartphone and a cup of joe costs $5, when the waithelp at the restaurant rolls their eyes at your requests but you still pull out the bare 15% or not less than a $1 to sit at their table, I don’t mind taking the 99 cent risk on whether or not someone else’s hours of labor are up to my very subjective standards. I was entertained by Ms Mixon’s story, but I found the premise both elitist as did others AND strangely a race-to-the-bottom for writers. When we do not balk at being gouged for basic services in mundane areas of our lives yet begrudge someone 99 cents for their creative output, there is something inherently wrong with the values of our society. And don’t hate on me for America bashing, because although that statement may apply to the country or even the world at large, it is the society of writers I hold culpable. If we don’t value each other’s work, how do we have hope to expect the rest of the world will?”
I encourage you to take a look at the original. T.K. Marnell’s response was noteworthy as were many others.
Could I have stated my case better? Surely. It was early morning in Hawaii and I hadn’t yet finished my first cup of coffee when I submitted that unedited response. My bad. But then again. I believe I made my point, I told my story even if I was only wearing some raggedy house-slippers.
The Donation Button
At the end of August I posted this blurb at the bottom of my post: “Over on the right-hand column is a new feature. I added a donation button. I will write more on this in bits and pieces. I did this for several reasons. But I did this specifically today because I am giving folks a chance to donate to fund a self-constructed 10 day meditation retreat. Suggested donation: $1.”
I was already planning a 99 Cent post about the devaluation of writing as a profession. I found out that PayPal does not take $1 donations. Like many merchants, it has a $5 minimum. At the corner coffee shop, you need to charge a minimum of five dollars to use your plastic. Throw away magazines that line the check out counter at the grocery store cost upwards of five dollars. Yet even the fellow writers are decrying attempts at marketing new fiction at 99 Cents? Now that to me is the biggest cowpie.
What 99 cent book have you recently read that you would recommend to a friend? We are friends here. Please tout one with a link so we can all plop down our hard-earned dollars. My most recent: Chuck Wendig of terribleminds fame has 250 Things You Should Know About Writing. (Caution: his humor isn’t for everyone, but his advice surely is.) Your Turn.