I tell stories that take place in a world that invariably includes the spiritual realm. The phrase "no atheists in foxholes" sums up the human condition: we seek after the Infinite when we find ourselves in a bind.
My stories often consider that moment: how do we commune with the Infinite and what will we find if we make contact? What form will the answer take and will we recognize it? This, in a nutshell, is a key purpose for our lives: to discover our spiritual purpose and follow the path it reveals to us.
The result may not be what we want, but it will certainly be what we need.
And it will be exciting!
Mark Twain said, "When I was a child, they called me a liar. Now that I'm an adult, they call me a writer."
Not far wrong. Telling stories is lying, I suppose, but fiction is a lie that tells the truth. When we recount an actual event, we are constrained by the facts, which sometimes work against our theme. But when we write fiction, the facts serve the theme; characters and events are malleable to support the moral of the story.
But all writers are storytellers, as are all musicians, painters, filmmakers, an origami-folders. The audience is only interested because a story is offered: a beginning, middle, and a satisfying end. If you don't do this, you're wasting their time and yours.
That is something I try not to do.
So I'm a storyteller first and a writer second.
The Ultimate Artform
My father used to tell a series of cliff-hanger stories about two brothers, Jim and Joe, who lived in the California desert. His animated style and obvious pleasure in watching our excitement and hearing us beg for more were obviously great incentives for him.
I grew up hearing stories and then reading them. "Go to bed!" Mom would say. "But I'm not tired," I'd respond, it only being 8:30. "But I am," she would say. "I don't care what you do there, just get in bed."
So I did and when in bed, I read. The fourth of seven children, I was early reading far above my age level, and science fiction and adventure were my favorites.
I gravitated toward music and learned to play the piano, then sounded out chords and eventually put together a rock 'n roll band which told stories in three minute increments.
In college, I studied art and marveled at the masters' ability using color and light to focus attention on one part of the painting and then another, all the while telling a story about the subject, whether it were Altamira cave art or Jackson Pollock paint drippings.
Film took my breath away because it combined several art forms: mechanics (the camera), organization (editing), acting (giving words life), music (heightening emotion), and finally, writing.
But then I re-discovered the ultimate art form: literature. While a film holds the audience's attention for two hours, it does so by a cascade of image and sound; the viewer has little time to judge the unfolding events. But literature, read at leisure, requires a more deft hand by the artist. The reader can stop, review what just happened, and judge whether it's believable or satisfying. If the reader closes the book at this point, the writer has failed.
It is the ultimate test of storytelling, and also the ultimate reward, because unlike a film a book is a collaborative effort. The writer chooses which details to include and the reader fills in the blanks. The result is a miracle: a synergistic work that neither the author nor the reader could have created on their own.
That is why literature is more satisfying than film, because the reader participates in the creative process. And when it works, we are transported to a place we'd never imagined and yet which we had helped invent.