The Gift of Storytelling

The Gift of Storytelling

A teller or writer of stories, a weaver of tales….

The definition of a storyteller is rather simple.  However, if you look beyond that, you will find that explaining WHAT a storyteller is, can be a story in itself.

Storytelling has changed in form over its history.  Once seen as an oral tradition to preserve the customs, legends and past of the culture from where it originated, storytelling has evolved to the written word and in our modern times, shared on film and other media.  The oral storytelling of the past however, is not lost, but now is a part of this beautiful, extended family.

Who can be a storyteller?  Well, anyone really.  From your grandfather, who shares tales of his youth, to Hollywood’s most famous names, sharing tales of fantasy.

I believe that ALL stories, even the most fantastical ones, are rooted in a truth.  After all, they explore the elements of human emotion (love, hate, fear, etc.), that we all can relate to, no matter where we come from.

Even many of the myths that we know today, started as a very real part of history.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, then you know that I love horror.  Did you know that the modern vampire myth is not only attributed to the history of Vlad the Impaler, or even Bram Stoker, but to the tragedy of people who were accidently buried alive?  Tales of corpses being unearthed (when it was rumoured that the town/village had visits from the undead), would find the coffin covered in scratches and blood, with signs of growth of the hair and nails (which continue to grow for a period after death).  Here is an example of where fact meets fiction.  This infamous legend grew from the fears and superstitions of the time, leading to the tales that we know today.

(And yes…they did cut off the heads to make sure that the undead didn’t come back).

One of the greatest gifts that we have, is the ability to share ourselves through our stories.  Storytelling is not limited by race, gender, culture or religion.  From the most nomadic, ancient tribe, to the grandest performances of the theatre and film.  From a simple children’s tale, to epic stories of adventures, storytelling is what connects all of us.

That’s why I love to write.  My bookcase is full of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, folktales from Newfoundland and Ireland, collections by H.G. Wells and Hans Christian Andersen.  I guess that I feel that writing stories, allows me to be a part of a tradition that has existed for millennia, and will continue to do so until our sun goes BOOM! and we all once again become cosmic dust.

So, thank you to the storytellers.  From the ones who huddled around ancient fires, to those whose books and dvds fill my home.  Thank you for sharing your passion, your culture, and for keeping alive our imagination.

 

 

Text © Written In Geek blog (2017) All rights reserved
Pictures © Written In Geek blog, used with subject’s permission or under public domain (2017)- feature image courtesy of Pixabay

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One Parent’s View on Autistic Representation

One Parent’s View on Autistic Representation

I expect that there will be those who will disagree with my view, but that’s okay.  Discussing this issue is never a negative thing.  🙂

I am mom of a teenage son with Asperger’s and Tourette Syndrome (he was diagnosed as a child).  I always view any representation of autism and neurological disorders in the mainstream with interest.  Recently, I came across an article from The Huffington Post, about a theatrical version of Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” (excellent book btw), in which the lead is a young autistic actor by the name of Mickey Rowe.  The idea of having an actor who can relate to the character on such a personal level is fantastic, and I wish Mickey all the success that this opportunity will bring. Check out the article where Mickey discusses his role and his view on representation.

Finally, An Actor With Autism Is Starring In ‘Curious Incident’

Mickey brings out a good point in the article.  Why is it not unheard of to have a non-disabled actor play someone with a disability, but you seldom hear of an actor with a disability playing a non-disabled role (Hamlet being played by an actor in a wheelchair was his example)?

Food for thought.

the good doctor

 

This brings me to the new ABC drama, The Good Doctor, which is the US version of a Korean show by the same name.  Starring Freddie Highmore of Bates Motel fame, the show focuses on a young autistic man by the name of Shaun Murphy.  From ABC’s official description

“Coming MONDAYS 10|9c this Fall to ABC. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore, Bates Motel), a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, relocates from a quiet country life to join a prestigious hospital’s surgical unit. Alone in the world and unable to personally connect with those around him, Shaun uses his extraordinary medical gifts to save lives and challenge the skepticism of his colleagues.”

The trailer actually shows more chops than the description, and unlike what’s said in the description, Shaun is able to connect with people in his own way (this type of description always bugs me when I hear it).  The show doesn’t seem to be trying to make Shaun a “superhero”.  Although talented, Shaun deals with the attitudes that many young people on the autism spectrum deal with when it comes to how others view them.  Personally, I think that this show has a chance, even though Freddie is not autistic himself.  From what I’ve read on social media, the Korean version was brilliant, and the US version hopes to be the same.

From my own experiences as a parent, I welcome any chance where autism is a focus.  The downside, is that here is once again a situation where the role is given to someone who doesn’t have the personal experience with the disorder that his character does.

So, I have to ask, what do you think?  Can a show “do justice” to areas like autism, when the lead doesn’t have it?  Can Freddie’s portrayal even be compared to Mickey’s, when the two actors are coming from different directions for these roles?

It’s a tricky topic, and honestly, I don’t write-off any portrayal of this type without seeing more.  I have no idea if ABC even looked for an autistic actor, or thought of Freddie right away.  From the trailer, I did see aspects in his performance, that reminded me of things that I see in my own son.  I am not familiar with Freddie’s other works, but he appears to approach this role with the respect that it deserves.

There will be those that will dismiss him for no other reason than the fact that he’s not autistic.  I can’t blame them for that.  The fact is, television and movies still don’t have the breadth of diversity that they should, whether it’s race, gender or showing areas such as autism (and I could write a much larger blog on this, but that’s not my focus).  I do want to see more representation and I would like to think that, at the end of the day, we will see more actors like Mickey take on lead roles…PERIOD.

My take is that in both Mickey’s play and Freddie’s show, if people come away with a better understanding of the world of autism, and more respect and openness towards those who have it–then that’s a good thing.

And really, that’s all that this parent wants.

 

 

 

Text © Written In Geek blog (2017) All rights reserved
Pictures © Written In Geek blog, used with subject’s permission or under public domain (2017)- Feature image is a taken from the Huffington Post article.  Official show poster image courtesy of imdb.com

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The Man in the Book: A Doctor Who Not-So-Short Story

The Man in the Book: A Doctor Who Not-So-Short Story

Happy Friday everyone!

This is a short story that I did for Camp NaNoWriMo.  Sorry for it’s 1,500+ word length, I couldn’t find a good spot to break it up into two posts.

This is my first fan fiction.  It didn’t start that way, but like many writers, I let the characters guide the story.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

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The Man in the Book

I once went on an adventure, and it only cost me $11.23.

That’s what I paid for the second book that I ever bought with my own money.  MY MONEY. Not Mom’s, not Dad’s, not even Aunt Sue’s, who would buy me my own used bookstore if she could.  She said that it was her job to help her eleven-year-old niece with her “addiction to reading” as she called it, though I thought that addictions were supposed to be bad things, and reading isn’t a bad thing.  Every Friday after school, we would go to the local used bookstore and then the public library.  While at the library, she would chat with the young librarian there, a young man with short blonde hair and eyes like the colour of a storm (or so she described, though I knew that was just a line from The Princess Bride).

He was cute, if you liked older guys, or in Aunt Sue’s case, much younger ones.  He had to be at least five years younger than she was.  She was twenty-five she once told me, though she has been twenty-five for at least ten birthdays now, according to Mom.  She said that her sister will never really grow up, though I’m not sure if that’s really possible, unless she has some secret anti-aging thing like Wolverine.  People always said that I looked like a younger version of her, all curly, brown hair and freckles.

Oh, and the book?  I’ll talk about that later.  As I said, that was the second book.  The first book, that I bought earlier that day, has a bit of a tale too.  It was, Are You There God?  It’s Me,  Margaret, by Judy Blume.  It looked like an old book, and I probably paid too much for it, so Aunt Sue said, but it was mine, worn pages and all.  Judy’s signature was on the inside, though the used bookstore owner didn’t seem to have noticed.  I think that it means something when an author signs their books.  I really don’t know why, after all, their name is on the front, so it’s not like we don’t know who wrote it.  I think that it means that my book is worth more than I paid for it.  I wasn’t about to tell anyone that though, ‘cause I don’t want anyone to get all fussy and stuff.  Grownups are weird about stuff like that.

Like I was saying, we went and bought my first book that I got on my own, then went to the library.  Aunt Sue talked to that guy again, while I went into the SCI-FI AND FANTASY YA section.  It was way at the back, where the older kids liked to hang out ‘cause the librarians can’t see them talking and texting on their phones.  Today was nice ‘cause no one was there, so I had the whole corner to myself.  After looking around for a bit, I found a book by Erin Hunter called Warriors #1:  Into the Wild.  It was all about cat clans and society and battles, so I decided that I would give it a go.  There were enough books from the series in the library if I wanted to read more.

I had just started to settle down when Aunt Sue came over and told me that it was time to go.  She said that she had a date tonight, so she would have to take me home early.  I think that she felt bad about that, but was too excited to show it.  I bet that she has a date with that librarian guy.

I signed my new book out, scowling at the guy so that he knew that I wasn’t happy to have to leave early, but he never noticed.  I sulked as we sat in the car.  Aunt Sue noticed and apologized again for the change in plans.  “Listen, how about I take you back to the used bookstore and buy you another book?”  I know that this was a way to get me to forgive her for ruining my afternoon, but I said okay.  We drove back to the store and went in, though I wasn’t going to tell the used bookstore owner about Judy’s signature, just in case he wanted the book back.

While Aunt Sue waited, pretending to be interested in something that the owner was saying, I wandered to the very back of the shop.  It seemed like an area that a lot of people didn’t go to.  It was messier than the front—and darker ‘cause there were no windows at the back.

I forgot to mention what the store looked it.  It used to be an old house, like the type that you see in episodes of Murdoch Mysteries, which is an old-fashioned detective show that Mom watches.  It was a bunch of rooms that used to be places like the living room, drawing-room, kitchen and stuff.  Now, each room was filled with shelves of books. It was cool, and I liked exploring here even more than the library ‘cause there was no online catalogue to use or someone to tell where such-and-such a book was.  You just had to go explore for yourself.  Each room had shelves with a title on the top that listed the types of books that you would find, like Non-Fiction or Classics or Military History or Science Fiction.  Sometimes you found stuff you liked and sometimes you didn’t.  So, this time, instead of looking for books for kids my age, I looked for the grownup ones.  I saw titles like Pride and Prejudice and How to Make Money Online.

Then I saw it, my second book.  Now, I said that Aunt Sue told me that she would buy me a book, but I had money left over from earlier, and I knew that I wanted to use what I had left to buy this one myself.

It was called, The Doctor’s Tales.

It was a very pretty shade of blue.  Not like a robin’s egg, or even the sky.  It was a dark blue, and very plain.  At first I thought that it was about medical stories, which I would find boring, but when I looked inside, I saw words like space, and time and soon find myself at the first story.  It was called About a Man and his Box.  The sticker on the inside of the cover said, $11.23*, which was a strange price for a book.

As I said before, I went to the back of the house, where there were no windows, or if there were, they were blocked by the book shelves.  The light in the room was okay, but it hung right in the middle of the ceiling, and cast shadows on the words if I didn’t stand in the right spot.  I looked around for a place to sit, but the best spot was right under the light, which hung down from the ceiling on a chain, with the lightbulb in a globe.  It would look weird anywhere else, but it seemed to fit right in in the room.

As I read, I noticed that a shadow come up from behind me, blocking the light so that it was harder to read.  I turned around and saw a man standing behind me, looking over my shoulder at my book.  If he was trying to be sneaky, he wasn’t doing a very good job about it.  He had grey hair and was dressed all in black, except for a white shirt.  He had a very serious look about him, even though he was smiling.

“You know I wrote that book,” he said in a thick, Scottish accent, pointing to the open page.  I looked down, closing the book and looking at the front and back covers, the places where the author’s name, and sometimes their picture would be.  That’s when I noticed that there was no author’s name.  At least not there.  “No, you didn’t,” I told him.  I didn’t like it when grownups lied, and it wasn’t nice to say that you wrote something when you didn’t.  “I did too,” he insisted, then asked if he could see the book.  I handed it to him, but watched him carefully.  I liked the book and I wasn’t going to let him take it from me, even if he is taller and older than me.  He opened the second page, the spot where the title was.  “See there,” he said, pointing.  I looked.  The Doctor’s Tales.  Written by The Doctor.  “Doctor Who?” I asked.  He gave a smile and sighed.  “You know.  I never get tired of hearing that.”  I didn’t understand what he meant, and looked at him confused.  “That’s my name.” he said.  “The Doctor.”

“Well, what kind of name is that?” I replied, just a bit rudely.  He was being rather silly.  Who calls themselves just The Doctor?  That’s like saying Hi, my name is The Teacher, or Hi, my name is The Garbage Man.  “You are a bit of an odd child, aren’t you?” he said, though he didn’t seem to be rude about it like I was.  “I like odd people.  They are always so interesting.  And odd people should have a chance to see odd places.”

“So, how about it?  How would you like to go on an adventure?”

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(*November 23rd (11/23) was the day of the first episode of Doctor Who in 1963)

Text © Written In Geek blog (2017) All rights reserved
Pictures © Written In Geek blog, used with subject’s permission or under public domain (2017)- feature image courtesy of Pixabay

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