One lesson I picked up from the world of journalism: The need for stories, and people to tell them, continues year-round even though the news does not. That’s why you see so many “year in review” and “Top 10” type stories in print, online, and in the news at this time of year.
I’ll confess that I’m guilty of it, too. Three of my posts this week, and some coming up before the new year, are from my 1978 journals, timed to share what I was thinking during my early years as a writer some 44 years ago. Preparing these in advance gave me time to spend on real life this week. And yes, we’re having a good family time together, something we don’t get enough of these days.
The fourth post, a review of “The Self Delusion,” was spontaneous. I’d been listening to the audiobook version with the intent of using it as a springboard for a story. It’s an idea I’ve been kicking around since my college days, and I mentioned it several times in the journals from that same period. But as I listened, I heard more than just that.
I was surprised and enlightened to realize the connection between the author’s scientific research and the importance of storytelling. We tell our own stories in life, and we’re part of a larger narrative that controls our world. Change the narrative and you can change the world, a little bit at a time. That’s something we as storytellers must keep in mind at all times, even when we are not writing fiction and nonfiction.
Of course, on this Christmas day, I can’t overlook Fulton Oursler’s “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” When the star-studded movie version aired recently on Turner Classic Movies, I was tempted to call it The Longest Movie Ever Made. That’s the cynic in me. It’s only three hours, thirty-three minutes long, which is an economical way of telling the three decades of the life of Jesus.
I’ve never read that book or Oursler’s sequels, “The Greatest Book Ever Written” and “The Greatest Faith Ever Known,” but I’m tempted. He also was a prolific fiction writer under many pen names, and was a frequent contributor to The Reader’s Digest, where I worked some 25 years later.
Call it coincidence, call it serendipity, but one of the valuable things we do as writers is to pull together the little threads that are part of our story as individuals and as a society. And in a sense, that’s what the evergreens do as well.
Coming up this week: Some more evergreens from 1978, my own year-ender, and maybe a look ahead to 2023. Until then, merry Christmas (or winter holiday of your choice) and happy New Year!
In case you missed it …
Puff and fluff, 1979
Reading Time: 2 minutes Any local news editor understands the delicate balance between what readers and advertisers expect and what you think is important.
In Other Words … Season 2, Episode 19
Reading Time: 2 minutes Many people don’t even have the time or focus for an entire book. The culture of short videos and podcasts has taken over, to our detriment.
Top-of-the-head inventory, 1979
Reading Time: 2 minutes “Items in Stock” was, in truth, a misnomer. Some were complete, or ready for a final draft or a rewrite. Others were ideas or characters in search of a plot.
Award-winning coverage? (1979)
Reading Time: 3 minutes Newspapers have associations, which sponsor competitions. But it’s a long trip from “thinking of sending it” to actually receiving an award.