Books and Storytelling

Just about everyone loves a good book. Writers love them, of course, or else they wouldn’t be dedicating so much time, blood, and sweat to creating them. Readers love them because of the chance to find escape, or romance, or comfort, or bravery, or beauty. Whether you love stacks of dusty tomes or the efficiency of a Kindle, royal biographies or serial mysteries, books that are like hundred meter dashes or like long winding trails through a primeval forest, books and the stories they tell are so beloved because there are so many ways they can appeal to us.

We all recognize the import of a great story, even if we can’t quite understand why something so intangible could be so vital. Even if we don’t read them or understand them, stories as varied as Beowulf or The Grapes of Wrath, from The War of the Worlds to Pride and Prejudice, carry something that we sense humans want to create, and need to create.

The stories that will last are labors of love, combined with excellent craft and the sharpest of wit. A storyteller raises his tale like a child, ages it like wine, and sculpts it like art. He will work at that story, his heart straining with its emotions and his mind tinkering with its components, until it becomes a living thing that will shine and sing. Stories can be cranked out quickly, their pages splattered with ideas and interesting angles, but thankfully there are still many authors who will take the time to give their work a soul.

And the strangest quality of a soul is its immortality. Orson Scott Card has said that the greatest books stand the test of time. I am quite certain that every author should strive to place such books into their readers’ hands, books that will not only be enjoyed but cherished. The world still needs imagination and passion in its stories. That need has never lessened with time, even though it can be ignored or pushed to the sidelines once in a while.

To every writer and reader who reads this: I pray for the very best for you tonight. May your stories be timeless, may your minds and hearts always be ready to create, and may you never lose touch with the power of books and storytelling.

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