The Element of Story

I’ve sometimes wondered if Story should have its own place on the Periodic Table.

They really do seem to be essential to our understanding of the universe. We think in stories all the time. When we’re asked about how our day was, we sometimes form the events we lived through as stories. And really, I think we do it because we recognize that those events are stories. If we frame it right, if we start and end at the right places, if we make it funny or tragic or thoughtful…

In a sense, I’m new at this game. I’m firmly in the camp of “aspiring” writers, having never published a single piece professionally. I make it a point to write a short story for Christmas every year, and at the moment I’m in the home stretch of writing my first novel (which is really in that limbo between novel and short story that is known in the business as a “novella”). But in another sense…I’ve been in the business of stories for a long, long time, as has everyone else in the world. I couldn’t begin to count the number of books I’ve read, the number of movies and television shows I’ve seen, the number of radio programs I’ve listened to. They all have one thing in common: Story.

A favourite writer of mine, Neil Gaiman, explains his credo thusly: “We owe it to each other to tell stories.” Being new at the business of actual writing, I don’t know if I have a credo of my own yet. But I intend to find one. I suspect not every writer needs one, but I do think everyone who is serious about it will find one eventually. I’m on a journey to discover my own; and I may find that I have one or two already. For now, the road map I have in mind for this journey is mostly an exploration of other people’s stories, but as I grow in my chosen vocation I intend for this to become my primary writing journal, charting the progress I make on various projects. There will also be essays and musings on the nature of stories, full of things to consider the next time you open your favourite book or watch your favourite movie.

The Christmas story I wrote last year was a fairy tale about a young girl who discovers a strange box in her family’s library. When she opens it she finds it contains an ornate key which is identified by the inscription on the inside lid: The Key To Storie. I suppose the search for a credo is really also the search for this mysterious key and a mysterious door for it to open and show me one of the Universe’s most carefully guarded secrets.

The Element of Story. One of the fundamental building blocks of our world. Unquantifiable, ineffable, unsolvable. It changes as the seasons, yet always remains constant. It educates and entertains. It allows us to look out into the cosmos and see back into ourselves. It connects us together like the strands of a web, and brings us closer to the Author of all, the Ultimate Storyteller.

In the olden days, when books had to be written by hand, in every library and monastery there was usually a room that had been set apart for the creation of manuscripts. Scribes would sit at sloping boards, dipping handmade pens into the inkwells and copying out the words line by line; artists would draw the pictures and the capital letters and decorate the borders in specially mixed paints; illuminators would carefully put in the gold leaf to make the artists’ work glimmer off the page and into the reader’s eye. In this room, the magic of the written word was crafted.

I’ve long felt the need for a place of my own to set apart for the creation of my own brand of magic. This will hopefully serve as a digital substitute until I find the space to make it a reality. And when that happens it can hopefully continue as a mirror.

Welcome to The Scriptorium.

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