September 4th, 2013

Axe to Grind

Not. Sold.

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My head swims with negative voices, before I've even begun. I don't even have an idea and already it's not good enough. "It's been done to death," I'm reminded, "and by better writers than you'll ever be." Which may be true, but without even an idea, how can I ever know?

Even if it‘s been done, what am I to do about that? I cannot change the past. And though I can change my perspective and examine my beliefs and even influence who I will become, I cannot change who I am right now. And I am the sum of my unique experiences. I must have a story. I must have something to say. Even if it'll been said before. Stories are made to he told and re-told, handed down and amended, mended and reused like a hand-me-down blanket.

It's only our current (and very recent) system that demands originality (yet familiarity) so that something can be trademarked, copyrighted, bar-coded, packaged, and marketed. It. is no longer enough to be a storyteller, someone who gets paid for the craft of the telling, the recitation (but so much more than just a rote repetition!) of the classic tale. Not if you want to make a living.

And so we are held hostage by this idea of the original (yet safely, marketably familiar) tale. Our keyboards and pens and tongues sit idle, our stories (and our histories, for what is less original than something which has actually already happened?) inert and unprofitable. But stories are made to be told, not sold.

So now let this become my mantra, my aegis:
Stories are made to be told, not sold.