Creative Writing and Storytelling

  • Published on
    04-Mar-2017

  • View
    215

  • Download
    3

Transcript

  • This article was downloaded by: [McGill University Library]On: 28 October 2014, At: 11:21Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    New Writing: The International Journalfor the Practice and Theory of CreativeWritingPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rmnw20

    Creative Writing and StorytellingPublished online: 09 Jun 2009.

    To cite this article: (2009) Creative Writing and Storytelling, New Writing: The InternationalJournal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, 6:1, 1-4, DOI: 10.1080/14790720902910379

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14790720902910379

    PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE

    Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to orarising out of the use of the Content.

    This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

    http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rmnw20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/14790720902910379http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14790720902910379http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • Editorial 6.1Creative Writing and StorytellingThe simplest explanation of our love of storytelling is to link the telling ofstories to human beings trying to communicate with each other about thenature of human existence, the narrative that we all experience. Birth . . .life . . . and then death the classic (and perhaps least able to be challenged)instance of beginning . . . middle . . . and end!

    But its one thing to speculate on communication and another to speculateon art. Storytelling frequently offers an instance of both, and often built of themost common of human communicative tools, that is, words. Adopting andadapting these words to a purpose that seems at once universal and selective,simultaneously. To consider the origins of storytelling, what must surely beour most pervasive art on whose undertaking so many other arts rely andour most commonly undertaken form of creative communication, would seema natural action; yet relatively few of us have speculated on the acts andactions of storytelling. Indeed, in general, we have critically consideredCreative Writing almost entirely in relation to its products, not to its humanactions and so the case goes with stories and storytelling.

    When asked to consider the nature of storytelling as it appears in shortstories, the novel, poetry, plays, films, radio, television or computer games wehave turned, almost exclusively, not to the actual acts and actions of writersbut to their completed works. In doing so, we start in the wrong place. Just tomake plain what Im suggesting here: the argument is this: if we start with ananalysis of Creative Writing (including the telling of stories through CreativeWriting) and we begin by examining completed works of Creative Writing wealways fail to be able to really understand or, indeed, truly address the natureof story or the nature of Creative Writing. If when discussing the writing ofprose fiction and poetry, we start with what has most often been calledliterature, we locate this discussion most significantly in the notion ofdifference not in the idea of storytelling actions as a primary part of ourhuman landscape.

    We thus make Creative Writing something that is done, and celebrated,only in the efforts of the few, not in the activities of the many. And that notjust politically, not just textually, not just experientially, not just empirically, isnot accurate. Never has this been more obvious than since the arrival oftechnologies that decentralise the distribution of Creative Writing of allkinds.

    Creativity and, indeed, storytelling is a universal human activity; how weunderstand it needs to begin in that universality, not in consumerist or post-event analysis (by which I mean analysis that locates itself only, solely, after theact of creative writing, after the act of creation). Whether the origins of humancommunication are generated by social and cultural conditions and innatelinguistic aspects, whether this communication is generated by individual

    1479-0726/09/01 001-04 $20.00/0 2009 Taylor & FrancisINT. J. FOR THE PRACTICE AND THEORY OF CREATIVE WRITING Vol. 6, No. 1, 2009

    1

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    McG

    ill U

    nive

    rsity

    Lib

    rary

    ] at

    11:

    21 2

    8 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • psychologies, or whether the linguistic aspects are cultural conventions, doesnot diminish the sense in which storytelling has existed prior to the formationof writing systems, and prior (most importantly) to the modern market forsome Creative Writing products a market that existed, in one general form,from the 18th century to the late 20th century. We now live in a very differentworld!

    E H Carr begins his book What is History? with reference to the question ofthe writing History, what we know as historiography. It thus seems fitting,being an admirer of Carr, to ask questions about the writing of stories though not, of course, just any old writing; but, indeed, the creative writing ofstories. Understandably, here, there may be confusion because the discussionhere is already encompassing both an act, Creative Writing, and a product,Creative Writing. What Carr refers to is not dissimilar. And story also occupiesthis dual position it is both an act, or set of actions, and it is an artefact ormaterial object.

    When Carr talks about History, and what it is, he refers both to the notion ofcreation and to a created entity, a product. For Carr, History is not simply acollection of found facts, neatly arranged, sometimes debated, but ultimatelywaiting out there for discovery. Rather, History is a combination of the foundand the interpreted, the individual act of discovery and creation and thecultural and indeed, itself, historical act of bridging between what was andwhat currently is. Creative Writing is not far removed from this.

    Creative Writing (the act) begins with what might be (a new creative work)and proceeds to make it present, to the point where that work is. When thework is complete, as much as complete can mean anything like finished,then the creative writer can only continue their work by beginning somethinganew. Creative writers, in this sense, are dependent both on discovery andinterpretation. So it is with the nature of stories.

    Stories draw on what was before them, whether in observation or thought,and create a bridge to what is in front of them: the writer s engagement withstory making, and the reader or audiences engagement, most often, with astory exposed by the writer. If Carr offers merely an analogical reference toCreative Writing, in his work on historiography, he does so usefully byrecalling that the primary mistake of some who have theorised on History isthe mistake borne out of the idea that only discovery or merely interpretationwill suffice.

    Indeed, without the meeting of one with the other, History cannot bewritten though something is written. Carr calls that something Antiquar-ianism, where the discovery, collection and collation of facts overwhelmstheir interpretation. Quite the opposite results if interpretation overwhelmsdiscovery, and the possibilities of this kind of History producing anythinglike truthful or even useful accounts of our past is extremely limited.

    Carr, in What is History? is talking about the writing of History, and expertlyso. I am talking here about Creative Writing, the writing of creative works and, most specifically, the writing of stories. Of course, this is not to say thatHistoriography cannot be creative; and certainly not to say that History

    2 International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    McG

    ill U

    nive

    rsity

    Lib

    rary

    ] at

    11:

    21 2

    8 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • involves no stories. In fact, very much the opposite! Similarly, we could talkabout the stories of Physics, the stories of Engineering, the stories ofPhilosophy, the stories of Biology and the stories of Sociology . . . The listcould go on.

    Disciplinary boundaries, relating to the evolution of the Worlds knowl-edge, connected to the evolution of our universities and colleges, mean thatwhile we attach the word creative to only some areas of our humanknowledge we know indeed, commonsense confirms for us thatcreatively labelled disciplines are not the only areas of knowledge andknowledge acquisition that involve creative acts and creatively evolvedresults. And they are certainly not the only activities that involve stories.

    So it is useful, and productive, to be wary of thinking of storytelling as theremit solely of the creative writer. And it is essential to begin our under-standing of storytelling (as it is to begin our understanding of CreativeWriting) in the realm of human action, human activity.

    Broadly speaking, it could easily be argued that all human activity involvessome element of storytelling, some organic discourse and narrative relationship with time and space. So it is strange, then, when talking aboutstorytelling to recall that the words create, creative and creativity were, fora long time, unknown. Especially strange considering that deep questionsrelating to the purpose and intention of human life often have, and still do,relate back to questions of whether we exist to contribute to, or simply use,what we encounter in the World.

    For a long time when words such as create or creative became employed,they tended to attach themselves to religious notions, relating to ideals ofdivine intervention in human life, and connected with notions of supremacy,selection and significance. Is it any wonder, then, that some still associate thecreative both with a degree of superiority and with a sense of a hierarchy?Supreme being, superior beings, can be creative; creativity is founded in some,not in others, the right, as well as the ability, to create finds form onlyoccasionally, and usually in special circumstances. These suggestions are veryfamiliar, yet very difficult to support when we recognise that creativity, andthe telling of stories, is a universal human undertaking.

    Accurately considering what the writing of stories is, therefore, has twobadly misaligned elements to overcome. Firstly, the origin and our relationshipwith the idea of creation; and, secondly, the origin and our relationship withCreative Writing. If, by our very existence, we cannot simply leave things asthey are that is, simply by being we make and unmake things in the world,we create and we destroy then the act of creation is, literally, as natural asbreathing. Creating, therefore, is not an option but what we chose to create,how often and how actively we chose to create, and by what means we choseto create become the focus. From this perspective, creation cannot only be forthe elite and, regardless of any religious beliefs, it cannot be extracted fromhuman life.

    However, it can be attached more specifically to particular acts; it can bemore conscious in particular circumstances; and it can enter into relationshipswith wider spheres of human activity the biological or reproductive, theeconomic, our relationship with the environment, the societal and the

    Editorial 6.1 3

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    McG

    ill U

    nive

    rsity

    Lib

    rary

    ] at

    11:

    21 2

    8 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

  • interpersonal and, of course, the artistic. In all cases we find that story, andstorytelling, play a significant (indeed possibly the most significant) role.

    In this Issue

    . . . there are critical explorations by Eddie Tay, Kathryn Holeywell, DominiqueHecq, Maggie Butt, Ian Pople, Rob Mimpriss, Kevin Brophy and SylwiaChrostowska, a poem by John Simpson and two poems by Sue Roe. The workhere ranges through the intersections of culture, language and CreativeWriting, to discussions of course and institutional histories, art and creativity,experiments and the wonders of hats and, as so very often, much much more!

    4 International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    McG

    ill U

    nive

    rsity

    Lib

    rary

    ] at

    11:

    21 2

    8 O

    ctob

    er 2

    014

Recommended

View more >