I just got back from a work conference on television technology and production (that’s my day job). I had a great time, as I always do, connecting and reconnecting with colleagues from across the country, and learning new lessons from faculty, staff, and students working in video. I also attended a great session on reality TV production, presented by April Lundy. I’m not a big watcher of reality television – the closest I get to it are cooking shows or travel docs – but I was riveted by Ms Lundy’s session. Because so many of the points she made were about the importance of storytelling.
“Storytelling is everything,” she told her attentive crowd, and I grinned as she said it, because it’s true. Whether in television, film, poetry, or prose, the story determines the success of the medium. Ms Lundy spoke a lot about the ups and downs of conflict and arcs within a successful reality television show season or series. I could only think how much that applies to my own writing and editing; throughout the entire editing process of From Hell (A Love Story), I kept reminding myself to “keep to the arc” and “push toward the conflict,” and how each chapter – just like a television episode – needed to fulfill a thematic point in the ongoing story. When I spoke to her after the session, she said, “I kept looking at you, because I could tell you understood [how important story is].” Do I ever.
I wasn’t able to write much more than a fluff piece for my wicked gunslingers while I was away, but I thought about my writing craft a lot. And I’m already itching to get back into it, conflict, plot building, character nuances, and all.
I love it when my work and my passions converge. Have you ever had two parts of your life cross paths in an unexpected way?
Well, as often proven, there is no story without conflict. Even the quiet moments in life have a spark of it somewhere. Sometimes it’s internal, sometimes not. But there’s always something to think about, to ponder or to reflect on.
From my end, writing and life can be…temperamental to each other. I get the bursts when the two mesh wonderfully. But then, more often than not, one has to be dominant. If only writing could win that one occasionally.
On the other hand, being a nerd in other areas crosses over fantastically in other areas 🙂
Well, I never expected the archaeology day job would show up so much in my fiction…. 😉 Of course, until a few years ago, I didn’t know fiction would be part of my life at all! Hmm, I’ve been writing for 6 years now. Does that still qualify as “a few”?!
When it comes to writing, I definitely believe the story is the most important thing. We should strive to be good writers, of course, but for me the most beautiful prose in the world won’t keep me reading a dull story!
Yes, that’s very true, shade! 😀
I love being a creative that relishes conflict. It’s made it a lot easier to deal with it when it pops up in my day-to-day life. You are entering a fantastically complicated – and wondrous – new chapter, too! I’d advise you to remember all the little gems that make themselves known, even if you don’t write them down now. 😉
Thanks for reading!
I adore the fact that your day job has crossed over so much into your fiction, JM! <3 Your expertise brings so much more detail and insight into your characters and stories – it's a lot like looking at the world through a new lens. And, I love that we can see your passion come through in those moments!
Six years is a lot! A solid journey. I'm so glad you've stuck with it, too, because we need more talents like you sharing stories. 🙂
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I think I have to be a writer because I see stories everywhere in my non-writing life. So, I guess my answer to your question is “Yes!” Especially as a mom — there are so many things I’m experiencing in motherhood that I can connect to storytelling in some way.
That’s neat that Ms. Lundy connected with you during her session (how she said that she kept looking at you because she could tell that you understood). The writer in you is obviously sparkling! 🙂
My silly grin was probably distracting April in her session…but it was great to hear someone talk about story with as much passion as I often feel, too, especially about a medium other than books! Logically, I know story is critical in television, but everything she said resonated so much with me. I felt like I was in the room with a true kindred spirit. 🙂
Definitely, parenthood opens up so many story possibilities – we’re watching stories unfold every day, under our own roofs! I hope you decide to share more of your stories with us in the future. 🙂
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I remember you telling me that it doesn’t matter how long or short a chapter is, ad long as it accomplishes what it needs to. And I never forget it. 🙂 Thanks for the advice!
I need to remember that more often, too, spooney. Oh, those days when I thought more words = more story! LOL!
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I haven’t yet come to that convergence, but there are moments in my work life where I feel can make for good story material. I’m working on that very concept with my “Wired” stories. I hope to have more instances outside of work, though.
I’d call inspiration a convergence, George. 🙂 Glad to hear that you are putting together your ideas into a story series! It should make for a great read! 🙂
Like Kate, I found it so cool that she could tell you understood what she was talking about just by looking at you!
How you tell the story is so key isn’t it. A few years ago at a conference they hired an after dinner speaker, I don’t want to say exactly what she was because it identifies her as a particular person, and I don’t want to be mean in case she happened to stumble across this (unlikely I know!), anyway, she had experienced something very exciting in her life, and had written a book about it, and we were all looking forward to her talk about it, but I tell you Mayumi, it was the most boring talk ever! Afterwards, we were all saying – how can someone make something so exciting sound so dull! That’s when I realised that it’s not what the story is that counts so much as how it is told.
Oh, that conference dinner speaker sounds so disappointing. 🙁 At least you were with others to commiserate, though, Vanessa. 🙂
I’m a pretty firm believer in the idea that all stories (in their basic form) have already been told, but it’s the unique voice we give our creations that make them different from the rest, and worth the journey. With the help of my writer friends like you (and Kate, and so many others), I’m learning to find mine. 🙂
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