Writers think instinctively in terms of narrative, of story. It’s how we make sense of the world. The brain, our computer, processes what we see, feel, hear and looks for meaning in this input, based on our internal database of past experiences, of what has already been recorded and stored.
“Our brain casts us as ‘the protagonist’ and then edits our experience with cinema-like precision, creating logical interrelations, mapping connections between memories, ideas, and events for future reference. Story is the language of experience.”
(Quote from Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron, Ten Speed Press.)
A story isn’t just about an event, a drama, a character. It’s about how what happens affects that character and changes them, however subtle or enormous that change. At the end of the story, things will never be the same. A story is life. Life is a story.
We learn from stories and engaging with characters, real or imagined, teaches us about ourselves.
Many people have a profound need to seek solutions and resolutions, to solve the puzzle that is our life, and I wonder if this need is enhanced in those driven to create. We can explore this desire and feed this compulsion through our work, our stories. Our therapy and remedy. Imagination is both a blessing and a curse. Reading other people’s stories, whether through fiction, painting, photography, film, music, is just as vital in helping us understand our own stories.
Maybe it explains the human instinct to document, record and collect. By compiling evidence of your existence, you are assembling your story, or stories, proving that these things happened. It is saying to yourself and the world; I am, I was.
The phenomenal success of Facebook testifies the depth of this need. Author Jonathan Franzen is quoted as saying,
“We star in our own movies, we photograph ourselves incessantly, we click the mouse and a machine confirms our sense of mastery….. It’s all one big endless loop. We like the mirror and the mirror likes us.”
The revolution that is the internet has changed the world, presenting us with a dazzling array of creative tools and distribution channels. We all have a story to tell, to share with the world. And now all of us can.
By Jane Ayres