Are We Losing the Art of Storytelling?

Are we too impatient to write and too impatient to read?

In our culture we want things quick, short and to the point. That doesn’t work well for fiction writers. Fiction readers may still want a book with depth, character development, rich descriptions, fully developed thoughts and a storyline. However, that takes time to write. Time to craft, plot and rewrite.

A writer gets an idea for a story. It can be written out in a few sentences, just enough for them to come back to later and flesh it out. Or, those few sentences can be shared as they are, instant gratification. The reader will have the idea, but not the story. Would they have taken the time to read it anyway?

I’ve been reading older books, written in the 1800’s. I can see a different writing style in them. Different cultures, different readers and different writers give a book the flavour of the time period it was created in. The story telling is influenced by the culture of the times.

This can work against the story, the book. Some of them are a lot of reading with old fashioned words I have to look up in the dictionary, or just ignore and assume I have the general idea. Descriptions can be endlessly long, at least they seem that way to me, reading them now. The story may wind far off track and give a lot of information which seems unimportant to me, as a modern reader of the old tale.

How will our books seem to future cultures? Even now, in our own time, how much of the richness and depth of the story are we losing?

Don’t think it’s just readers who expect a short story. How often as a writer have you cut things shorter? How often have you not had the patience to let an idea grow and evolve before posting or publishing it? We get an idea and push it out there. We rush our stories. We cut our stories down to size, not just because readers are less likely to read them, but we ourselves are less likely to write them. Move on to the next quick post, the next idea, the next project rather than let the current one take up too much time.

This was a short post. Did you read it all, or skim most of the way looking for bolded text to sum it all up?

Celebrate Yourself Today

Here you are, on this particular day on this particular planet and at this particular time. Pretty good, eh? You may have some problems going on. You may owe money, not own a home or need to deal with unhappy people in your life. There are always problems. If you look for them you can find them quickly and easily. But, for today, at least part of today, stop looking.

Take one day to enjoy, celebrate yourself and what you do have. Think about the good things, the last great book you read, the little bug you noticed last time you had a walk somewhere, the dishwasher is all loaded up and running without you having to a thing more. There are always good things. We make so many of them seem small while we blow up the negative things. Stop that. Appreciate the good things, take the time to enjoy having good things.

Celebrate yourself most of all today. Right now it’s a sunny day outside. Fresh and clean from the rain yesterday, a nice drizzle it was. It’s Sunday so most people don’t need to go anywhere or do anything they don’t want to do. A few household chores to accomplish and the day is yours.

Take what you have right now and be happy with it. Not because there could be doom and gloom on the horizon (don’t threaten yourself) but because it’s here, right now and it’s good!

Miranda, The Ghost Next Door

miranda1I read a book about a ghost named Miranda, when I was about 12, and I’ve been haunted by it ever since. I could not remember the title, the author or anything else very helpful. But, it seems I had a lot more in my mental storage than I thought.

On impulse I searched for “Miranda ghost book” today and I found it! I was sure it was the same book as soon as I saw the book cover! I felt that connection to myself from so long ago. I remember how I felt then. A feeling of loss, sadness and the drive to never forget Miranda. I even decided I would name my first daughter, Miranda. (I never had a daughter but today I’ve read at least two other women named their daughter Miranda based on this book).

The book was written by Wylly Folk St. John and is titled The Ghost Next Door.

The best place to read more about Wylly Folk St. John was all the blog posts and photos from  Elizabeth Harper, her great-niece.

I don’t have a clear memory of the facts from the story but all the feelings are still there. Looking into the book again today the feelings are coming back, almost as fresh as the day I turned the last page when I was reading the book.

The book seems to be out of print now. Maybe the publishers thought the story had become too dated to sell. There is another edition but it lacks the illustration from Trina Schart Hyman.

wylly-folk-st-johns-obituary-pg-14wylly-folk-st-john-obituary-pg-2-used3

GoodReads: Wylly Folk St. John

GoodReads: The Ghost Next Door

Sherry Alston had never been told about her dead half-sister Miranda. So when Sherry came to visit her Aunt Judith, no one could explain the odd things that started to happen. Who was the elusive friend Sherry said she saw in the garden? Was she an imaginary playmate – or could she be the ghost of Miranda who had drowned in the pond years ago? Uncanny reminders of Miranda began to turn up – a blue rose, a lost riding whip…

Wylly Folk St. John’s house has been preserved as part of the historic preservation society.

Amazon: Wylly Folk St. John

Disney made her Secrets of the Pirates’ Inn into a TV movie. I found the full movie (1969) on YouTube.

Settling for Less in Print

Words are beautiful but they need rulesThis is about typos and publishing. How many typos did you find in the last print book you read? What about the newspaper? Compare that to web publications, blogs included? Do you see a trend?

I can remember when finding a typo in a published book was rare. I wish they were still rare. These days I usually find at least one in each book I read. Often they are obvious typos not just something spell check software could catch but something a human proofreader would have (or should have) noticed and fixed.

On the web there have always been typos, outright spelling and grammar mistakes. On the web we are writers without editors, proofreaders or back up staff. Most of us still write our own sites. We publish, maintain and do our own public relations and marketing too. We are our own tech support and once we leave the keyboard the whole operation leaves with us. So, there are uncaught typos, at the very least.

But the standards overall are slipping. Ignorance is part of it. You don’t need to be hired or pass a test to start publishing on the web. I think this has begun to infect the print publishers too. Why be so careful, so particular if you can get away with a casual typo or a relaxed style of punctuation, spelling and grammar? Why spend all that money hiring proofreaders to maintain a standard which seems to be disappearing?

I don’t like settling for less.

As a reader of print books the errors in print have begun to make me feel cheated. Once I felt I could rely on print publications to learn correct forms of writing. Now, I feel annoyed to pay full price for a book when publishers seem to have abandoned that diligence.

Words are beautiful but they need rules to work well with others.

Writing in Spite of it All

Since the dawn of the ebook I have bought several of them, had a lot given to me for free but I’ve yet to actually read any one of them all the way through. My brother got me an ereader for Christmas (2013) but even with that I have not gotten into an ebook.

Maybe I’m just old fashioned, or just old. I like a book I can take with me everywhere, one that doesn’t need a battery to be read and can take being bashed around in my purse, under the groceries I’m carrying home in the shopping bag and so on. I think technology is going to have another big shift soon. People are going to realize they are paying for a cell phone they don’t need because texting is really just a more expensive way to send an email. This will change publishing again. I’m not sure how but I don’t think books and writing will ever be lost to us, in whatever format.

As far as having to promote and sell your own books. I don’t think this is all bad. As a web publisher I’m DIY, other than using WordPress and paying a web host, those standard things, I don’t have help. I often wish I did. But, I don’t make enough to pay anyone a living wage.

Publishing is like a doughnut. There is all the icing and cake stuff around the edges – everyone makes it seem so simple and even glamorous. But when you get into it you are alone in the doughnut hole. It’s not easy being DIY. I’ve proved that to myself endlessly. I’m not successful and I won’t be making any trips to Paris (unless I write it for myself).I got burned out two years ago and I’m on the upside of self recovery.

I can’t not write and I can’t stop feeling I have a persistent need to teach the world. So, I keep on publishing, the web is good for that. I can almost afford to keep writing while paying the bills with a real job.

Everyone has their own unhappiness, I’ve picked mine. Not everyone can say that.

via Love and Noir in the Time of Ebooks « ASCII by Jason Scott.

When and where would you die in a Zombie apocalypse?

Just for fun, of course. But, aren’t your curious to find out…?

By analyzing your Facebook profile and combining it with your location, we can estimate your life expectancy as well as your final location during a Zombie apocalypse.

Source: When and where would you die in a Zombie apocalypse?

Now that you’ve got the details, fill in the blanks, tell the rest of your zombie apocalypse story. I only have 29 days to write about. My ex-husband posted the Zombie Apocalypse link to Facebook. He survived over nine months, that’s a book-length story to tell.

Beware The Phantom of the Opera

I will never forget seeing The Phantom of the Opera in live theatre downtown Toronto years ago with my family. I loved it. The rest of them…. they mocked it and continued to mock the show for weeks afterward. Doesn’t it really bug you when someone else just doesn’t get (understand) something you love? Anyway, that was years ago.

Phantom of the Opera Live on Stage or Creepy on Film?

I don’t think anyone, having heard the music from Phantom of the Opera, will ever really get it out of their head again. The story is one which has been told and retold in endless versions and twists since Beauty and the Beast (likely there was an earlier version before then but we don’t know it).

Does anyone remember the Phantom of the Paradise which starred Paul Williams back in 1974? For me that was far creepier than the Phantom of the Opera performed live at the theatre. But, the theatre was meant to be for all ages. The movie was not. It had all the weirdness of a movie made in the 1970′s and then some. I still remember the feeling of being creeped out more than the movie itself.

I’d like to read the original book by Gaston Leroux.

The sad thing about reading books which were not originally written in English is having to trust the translator not to edit anything while they re-write the book for an English reading audience. No one should buy a book which has been translated without finding out about who did the work and how it was done. So much can be changed depending on standards and ethics at the time. I’d like to read the book as close to the vintage version (with all the signs of the times) left intact.

I’m adding Phantom of the Opera to my list of classic books to be read. It’s a long list but I’m getting there, one book at a time.