I found this gem written in the pages of my trusty notebook/organizer – written by Past-Me a few months ago. It goes:
“Storytellers are born, but writers are made. I was born with the desire to create and share unique worlds and stories with others; but my writing skills are things that I had to learn along the way.”
For most of my life after the time I turned 16, I have been trying to explain to people on the differences between a writer and a storyteller (though I didn’t even know how to explain it at that time). It becomes an increasingly frustrating thing when I say that I want to be a writer, and people’s reactions are, invariably, “Oh, so you want to be the next J.K. Rowling?” or “Oh, why don’t you work for The Star?”
I appreciate the good intentions, folks. Really. But what follows after the mention of working with a newspaper or a magazine – is me explaining that I’m not that kind of writer: I don’t want to write articles or do journalism; I want to write stories.
“Oh, but you can also write about other people’s stories!”
Well, yes, but that’s like inventing the same damn wheel, only that I get to color it my way. Not that there’s anything wrong with inventing wheels and coloring them – it’s just not my thing.
In many ways, I was born a storyteller. I remember watching cartoons when I was younger, and my mind would (not literally) explode with ideas on where the plot could go, or what the characters could do. When I got new toys, like many other children would do, I would make up scenarios for them to interact (and inevitably fight) with one another.
(kind of like an episode of WWE, really)
When I grew up a little bit, and was suffering from some serious awesomeness withdrawal after completing the first Red Alert, I began creating my own RTS game storyline (which my mom saw, and took it as evidence that I was seriously addicted to video games and had to be banned from them). It wasn’t until I turned 16 that I took what I knew about writing as a craft to adapt these stories in my head for the page.
Not all storytellers are writers. Not primarily, at least. Hitchcock was one hell of a storyteller, but I doubt his own writings were good enough for his own standards. Walt Disney was an incredible storyteller, but he hardly had to write in the process bringing his stories to life.
On the flip side, not all writers are storytellers either. There are many, many insanely gifted writers out there – Charles Warnke, for instance – who have never felt the need to write about made-up stories, instead turning their attentions to the immediate world around us, which is already so full of wonders and miracles, they may argue.
Regardless of whether you are a storyteller like me, or a writer like Mr. Warnke – go forth, you.
Write good stuff.
Tell good stories.
And make damn good art.