Well, I read an article on the importance of writing and storytelling, and the author recalled a time when he was a paramedic… so no, we cannot literally save lives, as in resuscitate a person with words (literally), but we can save lives in other ways.
It may seem like a simple realization but it’s one we need to remind ourselves of every so often. Looking at news reports of plane crashes and the military assault on Gaza - what can writing do - those people are dead? But writing can communicate the truth and inform those still living. Educate the present so the future doesn't reflect the past. Then there is also the nobility and catharsis, of just telling their stories.
I was talking to a friend of mine recently, and she was sharing her recent trials and quite frankly, life threatening ordeals working with (reforming) drug dealers and gangsters – and her blunt reply about writing when I mentioned to her that it can’t save lives, was simply: “but it can”.
One day I will write her story… And I'm sure it will reach out to someone in a dire situation in need of motivation through their struggles, even if it’s just that one person.
On a more basic level, how does education work, how do we learn – through books, through writing, communication – without these simple elements - like textbooks, how many lives would’ve been lost? How did the medical profession come about? Someone had to be the pioneer, to analyse the human body and record their findings. Corpses were involved, and would not have been pretty, or perhaps even legal, but in that, in some way, the dead served to preserve the living... hows that for a story?
So, I encountered this issue because I am a true believer – a believer in stories, writing and storytelling, and because I’m tired of the mediocre and the dilution and saturation of art. To further put this in context, I’ve been wrestling with an article on story, and the essential organs of it as it applies to a very popular TV series – and thence the temptation to dismiss it all and banish it to the box of “it’s just a TV show/it’s just a movie” – because this is what modern films, especially, have taught us with their lack of quality storytelling.
"We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. . . . Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten - a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away."
Believe it or not, words are life – language, communication – words feed souls. We are on this journey and yet do not understand how there is a link between health (physical, spiritual and mental) and the power of words. What we see, and hear affects the way we feel, how we act and perceive things.
We shall all die one day, and there is plenty of depression, misery and depravity in this world – and you may find that often some will not offer any solutions to the problems we’re facing, but will merely explore the problems further, holding up mirrors to it. I feel that part of being a writer is to feed the soul and in some way provide a light or a way point in the journey of discovering the meaning of this thing called life – for those curios about it – and stories are one such medium of discovering those morsels of meaning, so that regardless of your existential beliefs, it is not all for naught.
Stories. They’re the beating heart and simultaneous nerve-center of us writers. They’re in and apart of us just as much as they abound everywhere.
The plain truth is, our brains crave stories...
"Classical story design charts the vast interconnectedness of life from the obvious to the impenetrable, from the intimate to the epic, from individual identity to the international infosphere. It lays bare the network of chain-linked causalities that when understood, give life meaning.”
Robert McKee, Story
"In storytelling, the stimulus of words brings about the production of inner images, an extraordinarily creative play involving the entire brain. Each new story requires a whole new set of neural connections and reorganizations of visual activity within - a major challenge for the brain. . . . So neural potential goes unrealized and development is impaired - unless storytelling and play are provided on a regular basis."
From “The Magic Child.”
By Dr. Joseph Chilton Pearce
Why I write
What will Matter
The Flaw in Game of Thrones
"Human beings devised writing to explore why we are here..."
--- Nadine Gordimer
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