Writers Are Crafted, Storytellers Are Born

By | December 18, 2010

To me, writing is merely a tool, like a saw or paintbrush. An artist would not call herself a painter because she uses a brush, nor would a boat builder be a sawyer because he cuts wood. The same applies to storytellers, who might use puppetry, theater, motion pictures, writing, oral tellings, music, or photography as their tools.

Whether the story is acted, filmed, or written is of as little consequence to the story as whether the boat was built with a saw, adze, or drawknife. The boat builder’s talent manifests in the building, just as the storyteller’s talent shows in the telling. The tool is secondary—they all get the job done, and they are soon forgotten after the boat is built in the story is told. What is remembered is the journey the boat and the story have taken you on.

Wood and story, nail and word, already exist. Tools come and go with the vagaries of culture and technology. Tools can be traded, materials can be substituted, techniques can be learned. Talent is the only essential ingredient, and it is in the crafting and the telling that talent must step forth. Call me a writer and I will consider it an honor. But if you want to borrow some money, call me a storyteller.


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