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Blogging is a careless activity; storytelling is not

I’ll admit it. This blog is something of a deception.  I’ve been blogging for nine years, but in truth, this blog is only an afterthought to my writing.   Keeping a blog  motivates  you to write semi-regularly.  It’s  a relaxing hobby (as long as I don’t scream too much about politics, that is). Sometimes it is therapeutic to do it again after a hiatus. So much of what passes for blogging (both here and elsewhere) is ephemeral. Ten years later, will anything I write here matter? I wonder.

But as this blog has evolved, I’ve noticed a few things:

  1. The very act of keeping a blog prompts you to say something – anything –when something important affects my nation or my area of interest (literature).
  2. About 5% of what I blog about ends up in some other piece of writing. So a blog serves as a sounding board for thoughts which I later explore more deeply.
  3. Out of habit I usually return to posts I wrote earlier in the week and revise them. Sure,  I don’t need to, but as I said, it’s habit.
  4. It’s hard to organize your thoughts in preparation of a blog post. Instead, I just start writing and organize later.
  5. The subjects I care the most about (literature) also tends to be the subject I blog the least about. As strange as this sounds, I am  reluctant to write about literature without writing it carefully (and blogging is by nature a careless activity).

Most of what appears on my blog seems loose…which is a sign of an amateurism. On the other hand, I definitely need to expose my writing to the world earlier and more often. The traditional formula of living in a cave for a decade until you come out with a complete novel in your hands no longer  works (did it ever?).

For this reason, I’ve decided to commit to using this blog as an outlet for more creative forms like storytelling. Not fiction per se, but informal storytelling.

Every month I’ve attended a story swap at my storytelling group. I almost never tell a story, but I often I am inspired to go home and write/tell a story. But I never do. Things come up; you know, the usual things (family, work, housework, sleep).

One reason i don’t follow up has to do with the craft of storytelling itself.  I have occasionally performed at live events. Although I’m not much of a live performer, I do prepare beforehand. My process is usually to write the story, time it, edit it to death until it falls under the maximum time.Then I rehearse it to death.

This sounds like a reasonable plan, but in fact this method is centered too much around writing things down beforehand. If you write the story down, you make the details too rich and the sentence structures too complex. Sure, it may not seem too ornate when you write it, but once you try breathing throughout it, suddenly you start chopping things down and eliminating details — not for quality reasons but simply because the phrases are too hard to say (and  to remember).

We have two different aesthetics. Even when it tries to  be simple, literary writing  tries to convey complex thoughts with complex imagery. Oral storytelling has to eliminate as much of these embellishments as possible. Sure, maybe you can throw in one or two fancy things. But only if they can fit inside a sentence which is easy to remember. Part of the problem is that you have to gauge the listener’s tolerance levels.  You have to write the story for the bored listener (not the attentive one). The performer’s enemy nowadays is the iphone.

So here is the big news. Despite my caveat about writing personal stories down, I  now feel comfortable with using my blog to do so.  So once ever two weeks or so, I will write an informal personal story on my blog. Generally based on truth, but not guaranteed to be 100% true. The first few stories I post will be already written, but after a month or two, I should be creating fresh stuff.

The stories will be called “Booby Naked Stories.”  When I was young, people called me Bobby, and my enemies called me “Booby Naked.” Uggh! How I hated that nickname. Now, for the sake of coming up with an easy-to-remember and easy-to-google name, I am decided to resurrect this atrocious nickname.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Frank Carver 4/22/2009, 3:06 am

    This article resonated with me. My children are always asking me for stories; each one takes maye a day or two of idle thought and half an hour or so of telling.

    Some of these stories have been great fun, and I often regret not recording or writing them down.

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