Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Place of Storytelling in Our Lives

In some ways, I think of writing as the translation of human perception. The way we write things, the myriad ways we explore the same topics over and over in different mediums and genres, speaks to the variation of the human experience. We all see things through our own filters and presets, but at the core we all write about the same things.

Writers draw from their own experiences, but because we are all human those experiences have the potential to speak to a wide range of readers. Storytelling--and most forms of entertainment come down to storytelling--is the cultural language. By reading (listening, watching, writing) we assess our place in the cultural narrative. We experience situations and questions in writing and how we respond to them--which characters we root for, which ones we want to fall on their faces--we define ourselves, our own opinions and perceptions.

We see the characters with whom we identify either accepted or rejected, and we feel either that we belong within a culture or that we are alienated within the culture. Storytelling informs our view of the world, either reinforcing the lessons we have learned from other sources or contradicting them, helping us form a picture of the world, the culture, its rules and our acceptance or rejection of those rules.

From a young age--in fact especially when we are young--our brains develop neural pathways that form connections between concepts, images, words, etc. The more used that pathway is, the more often the connections are reinforced and the stronger the connections become. And because the brain cannot tell the difference between what it imagines and what it actually experiences (the same areas become active whether your see an object or imagine it), storytelling offers us an explorative medium in which we safely experience situations which might be dangerous, difficult or impossible for us otherwise.

For me, writing--storytelling in any form--is a vast continuing dialogue: an exploration of who we are and what we feel and think and want and need. It has widened, through the centuries, as we are exposed to new voices and new ways of thought, but it is also still the same. We still tell each other of epic heroes/ines, we still debate the lines between good and evil, and in hearing the story--or in telling it--we seek to find our place in the endless narrative of our common experience.

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And two quick notes:

1) Just two more days to enter the raffle for a free copy of A Sign in Blood, over at Curiosity Quills!
2) I have a review of Wolf at the Door by J. Damask up over at Good Book Alert.

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2 comments:

CherylAnne Ham said...

Wow, this is so insightful. I really enjoyed reading this post. Thanks!

Marion Sipe said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And sorry it took me so long to reply!