We’re all storytellers. That’s why we’re in this business. True, there are many people in this business who are not in it because of the stories but because it is a business. There are widgets to be sold and they can make a lot of money selling them. But most of us are the widget makers. And at the very outset we need to decide what kind of widgets we want to make. What kind of stories do you want to tell? And why? Do you want to tell stories so that you can sell them, make some money, have a career? Or do you want to tell stories because you have something to say? Be clear where your priorities are. Embrace your goals with passion and move forward.
I seem to be the kind of widget maker that feels he has something to say. Somewhere locked in my DNA is a compelling energy that has insists that my stories must have meaning and purpose and integrity, that they have the intention to enlighten and inform. I could blame my parents, I guess, or their parents. Not sure who to blame. But somebody is responsible. This wasn’t my idea.
So, there are widgets I want to make and widgets I want to support. It’s a small, enthusiastic, iconoclastic, often discouraged struggling community that I belong to. But it’s the community that produces widgets (films, books, plays) of such passion and insight that they leave me breathless. What more could I ask for?
But what are these widgets? Stories? If the widgets we are making are stories, then how do we define them?
And, before we attempt to define story, I want to make on thing very clear. As storytellers, as purveyors of yarns that are intended to entertain, educate, inspire or intrigue, we have to be aware that our yarns can assume several different forms. Like shape-shifters, our stories can take morph themselves into a variety of shapes depending on the story, the intended recipients and the circumstances. Some possible shapes: novel, short story, poem, play, film, memoir, oral, audio, visual, etc. You get the idea. But before we decide what shape we want our story to shift into, we need to understand what the story is. What it is all about. What it wants to say. What journey it wants to take the recipient (listener, audience, viewer, reader) on. When you, the storyteller, the widget maker begin to comprehend the essence and raison d’être of your story you will also feel, from within the story, which shape will serve it best. You need to allow the story to tell you. Be careful that you don’t force your story into the wrong box just because you like the box.
As widget makers we have to respect the widget, the story. The story is our only reason for being here. Honor the story. Honor the art and craft of storytelling. Be a slave to your story and it’s possible that your story will raise you above the masses.