Words on the air

May 14, 2010

I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s 2006 collection of short stories and poems entitled Fragile Things. I make no secret that I’m a huge fan of Gaiman. His imagination is peerless and his writing is, in my opinion, exquisite. His mastery over words is almost as pure and perfect as that of the king of all storytellers – Ray Bradbury.

I wanted to share an excerpt from the introduction of Fragile Things that brought tears to my eyes and made me once again, feel value and purpose as a storyteller…

As I write this now, it occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile is how tough they truly are. There were tricks we did with eggs, as children, to show how they were, in reality, tiny load-bearing marble halls; while the beat of the wings of a butterfly in the right place, we are told, can create a hurricane across an ocean. Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.

Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas – abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken – and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.

~Neil Gaiman

I strongly recommend Fragile Things – it’s one of the most diverse and entertaining collections of short stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.



The Ageless Art

March 27, 2010

I recently came across this article on BBC News about the Bookbite campaign to encourage the over-60s to discover and develop their interest in creative reading and writing. I think it’s a great idea, and the article got me to thinking about how storytelling is one of the few arts that is truly not age-discriminatory.

In fact the argument could be made that writing is one of the few arts that tends to get better with age. Certainly the stories of a youth or young adult may have a higher level of passion, energy or enthusiasm about them, but surely the finer details – nuances in theme, character-relationships, and lessons-learned – can only get better with the experience that comes from age.

I worry sometimes about the longevity of my full-time career as a graphic designer. Talented new designers are emerging from universities by the bucket-load each and every year and sooner or later that stigma that comes with age will probably rise up to challenge me in my career progression. Who would you trust to give you the liveliest, most current design – the fifty year old, white haired man in the shirt and tie, or the energetic twenty-something with the ripped jeans and the t-shirt that says “Sex, Drugs, Helvetica Bold”?

See what I mean?

But I realized I have no similar worries about my writing. I suspect that every day that passes, every new person I meet, and every trial and tribulation that puts a new wrinkle on my forehead will only make my stories more honest, more refined, and most importantly more real.

I wonder if there are any readers of this blog out there that are in their finer years? If so, please weigh in… I’d love to hear from you!

~CGW (35 years old and progressing)