In From the Beast to the Blonde:On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers(1994), Marina Warner claims that ‘storytelling… banishes melancholy by refusing silence’, and that the story makes people ‘thrive'(xi). Kafka argues that as an art form, story is ‘An axe to break the frozen sea inside us’ (adapted by Morris and Sayler in the Journal of Science Communication (Vol 7, No. 3, 2008). As a writer of stories, how might I best explain what I attempt to achieve in telling a story?
One of my first tasks is create a plot that will engross my reader so that he or she will read my story in its entirety. Secondly, I should populate that plot with characters who demonstrate positive and negative traits (much like ourselves) in order to establish empathy with my reader. This plot and these characters should hold the reader in my story’s thrall.
Finally, though equally importantly, I hope that my reader might be emotionally and/or spiritually ‘affected’ by my story and the lives of the characters embedded in it—’changed’ you might say—which I believe establishes my goals on much the same terms as Warner’s and Kafka’s; Warner’s being to ‘banish melancholy’ and to help people ‘thrive’ (which is certainly a positive change in attitude), and Kafka’s ‘to break’ certain barriers, or even to free the reader from some ‘frozen’ or negative state of being, which is not unlike Warner’s melancholy.
I want to help my readers both discover, and free, some aspect of themselves through a reading of one of my stories. If such a state of self discovery and personal freedom can be achieved through my story telling, I am a happy artist. But I should add—I must add—that my primary motive for writing stories is to achieve that same experience of self discovery—that same freedom—for myself.
But there is more: I really don’t care if I am called old fashioned, if I am labelled a Luddite—I rejoice in the fact that my Great Great Grandfather was sent to Tasmania as a convict for being a machine breaker, which is much the same thing—I want my story to appear in book form. I want it to bear the marks of being crafted by human hands: I want the marks of ink on paper. You see, Dear Reader, I make my stories by hand: I use a fountain pen and real ink. I write in a real journal on real paper that I treasure. I ask that my stories are reproduced in the same way. Am I old fashioned? Who cares?
The storymaker was right (write?) there, scratching on clay, chipping on stone, making marks on parchment, when man was first created.