Listening to the Inner Storyteller

No reason for this picture except I thought it was really cute. (I should try to repeat it with Lucy and Tumbleweed, perhaps. I like how they look like they’re about to strike up a conversation a la Alice in Wonderland.)

And speaking of Lucy, the girl is apparently a born storyteller. Although she can’t read quite yet, she has absolutely no problem with opening a book and making things up to go with the pictures. The fun part is that it takes her less than two seconds to process whatever she sees and come up with a story for it…and the story actually makes sense even as she goes page by page.

And by make sense, I mean that it holds a sense of continuity, not that her four-year-old logic is flawless. Last time it was apparently about the Saggy, Baggy Elephant. Who has a lot of friends and goes in search of coconuts. And who marries the tiger, because they are almost the same size. *cough*

According to her pre-school teacher, she does this in class and even gets a fairly large audience of other children who sit down beside her to listen.

I envy that sort of free-flowing ability. She’s not concerned with what the other children think about her words (or me, for that matter.) Hell, she doesn’t even seem to care if any of us actually listen. She’s going to tell her story the way she wants to tell it. If you’re interested, then you’ll listen. If you’re not, then you won’t. Either way, she’s going to continue talking and sharing what she has to say.

I suppose I used to be like that, though I don’t remember ever really sharing my stories. I played silently as a child, with the words just unfolding in my head. Maybe the act of speaking aloud would have ruined the illusion?

Still. Somewhere along the road to getting pubbed, writers *do* start thinking about their words and their stories. We tend to focus on the negatives instead of the positives. We have to worry about our agents and our editors and our readers. Do we sacrifice our “vision” and give the people what they want? (Or what they *think* they want. It’s not always the same thing.) Reviews come out and everyone has an opinion. There was too much of this or not enough of that. I want more of Character X. I want less of Character X.  It becomes a fine line, because deep down, I suspect most writers just want to make people happy.

Jeffe and I were talking about the need for a thick skin the other day – the main argument here being that a truly thick skinned author doesn’t even read reviews. They know their inner voice and the story they want to tell and they’re going to go with that. I’m not quite there, because, yes, I am reading them all at the moment…but it’s my first time through, so how can I not?

And yes, I’ve had one or two less than stellar reviews (and how easy it is to fall into the trap of “Well they just didn’t *get* me.” Did they? Didn’t they? Hard to say – some of the reviews are short enough that I can’t really tell what they meant, only that it apparently didn’t resonate.) The majority of them have been very nice, but again, it’s a balance.

Listen to all the negatives and you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to figure out all the reasons why you suck. And maybe you start to doubt that inner storyteller, and change your words to try to please the unnamed masses.  In the end, maybe that works…but more than likely it won’t. You can’t please everyone and by trying to, I suspect the writer loses their way.

On the other hand, if you do nothing but listen to the positives, then it because far too easy to believe your own press. And the thing is, it’s probably okay to pump up your ego a little bit, but resting on one’s laurels isn’t going to get you repeated success. There will *always* be someone better than you, or who has more success. And there will always be people waiting in the wings waiting for their own chance. (As my father used to say, “Be nice to the people you meet on the way up…’cause you’re gonna meet them on the way down.” And people have *long* memories.)

At any rate, navigating such waters is new territory for me, but I’m grateful for the chance.

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