October 8, 2012

Let There Be Stories

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:13 pm by dgcombs

When people told themselves their past with stories, explained their present with stories, foretold the future with stories, the best place by the fire was kept for… The Storyteller. — Jim Henson

I love stories.


I remember visits to my grandparents included begging my grandfather to tell us a story. I loved the way he could spin a story out of nearly nothing and keep my brothers, sister and me occupied for what seemed like hours. He loved to embroider his stories with little details: the sights and smells of long ago. One short story he told us was about life on his family’s farm. There was no grociery store just down the block then. And you couldn’t go every week. It was a special trip. Not least because of the candy dish in the general store. My grampa and his brothers climbed onto the horse-drawn wagon eager with anticipation. Their father gathered the reins in his hands. Then, just before starting off, he turned to the children. “Do you have any money?” he asked. When they said, “Yes,” as he knew they would, he held out his hand, “let me have it, please.” They turned over their hard-to-get cash, visions of the candy canes and even chocolate dissipating like an early morning fog in the sun. They would not see their money until their return home when their father asked them again to hold out their hands. He returned their money. Once in a great while, they might even see a penny or two added to their total. The life lesson was to spend your resources wisely.

I was really fascinated by the ability of The Beatles to tell a story in two minutes or sometimes even less. The story of a frustrated young writer trying to break into the business is told in 2 minutes and 18 seconds. And it rhymed.

Paperback writer, paperback writer.
Dear Sir or Madam will you read my book,
It took me years to write will you take a look,
Based on a novel by a man named Lear,
And I need a job,
So I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.
It’s a dirty story of a dirty man,
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand.
His son is working for the Daily Mail,
It’s a steady job,
But he wants to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.
It’s a thousand pages give or take a few,
I’ll be writing more in a week or two,
I can make it longer if you like the style,
I can change it round,
And I want to be a paperback writer.
Paperback writer.
If you really like it you can have the rights.
It could make a million for you overnight.
If you must return it you can send it here,
But I need a break.
And I want to be a paperback writer.
Paperback writer.

Twitter has a minor celebrity, @VeryShortStory (Sean Hill), who writes… well, very short stories. They are suitable for Twitter’s 140 character limit. One recent installment sounded like it could have begun a Sam Spade novel.

Noticed her legs first. Strong and lean. Long scar on the back of one. I took my time approaching. Kissed her on the nose. Great horse.

All of which make me wonder where to start this story.

In a valley far away where the water quietly bubbles up from deep in the earth and the moon shines brightly, there was a cave.


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