Some stories yearn to be published. From the time they begin as ideas in the mind of a storyteller, they know that they will one day transform into words and sentences craft-fully woven to evoke emotion and meaning.
But many stories never make it past this stage. Procrastination does everything in his might to shut down any creative impulse a storyteller has. He tells the storyteller that he certainly doesn’t have it in him to pick up the pen and paint a canvas with words. He says that there will be many more days to come, when the storyteller won’t be as tired as he is, days when he will be more creative, days when he will have ‘inspiration’. Anything to convince the him not to tell his story. Procrastination kills.
When a storyteller finally overcomes creative blocks in his mind, and kills procrastination before it kills him first, he will finally have a reason to celebrate. Creativity like a river, endlessly and refreshingly flowing from his pen to a blank paper. The conception of a story.
Words turn into idioms, similes, metaphors, which turn into punchlines, ‘pun-intendeds’ and ‘pun not intendeds’, Words then become expectant, their bellies swollen with pregnancy. Excitement. The same excitement that you’d feel for a newborn soon coming into this crazy crazy world.
When the time comes, the story is born. The ceremony, as is the established norm, is marked with tears of joy. Silent ululation. Feelings of affection never experienced before. The storyteller examines his story with admiration, like a mother does to her newborn kid, feeling affection he’s never experienced before. He is in awe of how the myriad of sentences intertwine the same way the veins of a human body network to dutifully pump blood to the heart, from where all life springs.
Parents imagine their kids deserve the world. A storyteller too, imagines that his story deserves to travel to all corners of our spherical earth. The only way to ensure the story travels around the world is to tell it, publish it, share it. Our ancestors did it by word of mouth. A lot was distorted over time, because some humans love to exaggerate otherwise mundane issues.
Picture an ancient village set in Africa. Too cliché? Not really, there’s nowhere else an ancient village would be set other than Africa, the cradle of mankind. The village has an elder. You know those elders who, while seated can see farther than a young man can aspire to while standing on a mountain-hill? He’s one of those. So one day, while he is seated on his stool, watching the sun set in the western sky, he sees something peculiar. Something no one else has yet. Something terrible. It’s a famine, it’s coming.
Something has to be done. He hastily gets up and calls for the village messenger. The messenger gets there swiftly. The elder, his wise eyes staring beyond the horizon, says to him, ”go to all the homes in our village. Go even to the neighboring villages. Tell them to increase their food storage in anticipation of the times to come. Leave at sunrise”.
At the break of dawn, the messenger begins his journey, travelling near and far, spreading the message, ”Our wise elder has told me to inform you to increase your food storage facilities in anticipation of the future. Good tidings are coming!”
I imagine that’s how stories and important information communicated orally were distorted. You now see why writers are important?
Anyway, back to our storyteller. He wants his story to travel around the world, to be told to every ear, to be whispered from every lip. His intentions are noble.
But just before the story gets to meet the world, insecurity creeps in. An inner critic dissuades the storyteller from publishing. He comes on strong telling the teller a different story. That the story is not worth being told, it belongs to the most desolate corner of an abandoned trashcan. That the words are too simplistic, and the imagery lackluster and uninspiring. It’s not enough to paint a picture within the reader’s mind. It’s all grey like the skies on a rainy Monday morning.
This is where many otherwise good stories die. But if the storyteller overpowers the critic and silences it, then his story has hope. There’s no right way to silence the critic. Everyone has their own ritual. Whatever the ritual, the end is justified. The inner critic, silenced like an authoritarian government silences its dissidents.
Only then, is a story published. A story is only as good as it is told. But before we decide if the story is good, it first needs to be told.
If you’ve made it this far, Asante. Till next time.