Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Telling Stories

Am I Authoring My Life or Are Others Writing It for Me?

Book Discussions There’s a conversation going on here…

It began on February 12th and continued on the 14th

So far, the conversation has been about an author’s conversation with the world and having a conversation on this blog :-)

Reader Comments on the 14th:

“I like the idea of blogs being a conversation rather than a monologue.”

I think every author stands at that window of trust and wonders if it’s possible to jump and land unhurt. In a way, we are all shouting into the emptiness of bookspace and listening with surprise to faint answers.”

A comment about, though extending, those comments, on the 14th:

“‘Am I authoring my life or are others writing it for me?’ That’s a very interesting question. I guess we would all like to be the author of our lives but……. what author can truly say when they wrote a book they knew everything that would happen in it? On the other hand a book may have an author but it is also written in the reader’s head, who shapes its story in their imagination as well. So perhaps both states of being are desirable – you author and other people read “versions” of your authored work and somehow or other we all reach the end of the book, better read, still wondering if we understood the climax and the denouement and hoping there will be a good ending :-)”

I find this comment fascinating since it starts with a question I’d asked and immediately takes it to territory dealing with an author’s conversation with their own work—writer talking to their writing…

My response to, “what author can truly say when they wrote a book they knew everything that would happen in it?”, is that we can’t be absolutely sure what happens in our lives and the author can’t be absolutely sure what will happen in their book—until it happens—until it’s written…

But… We can plan intelligently and faithfully about our lives and the author can do the same about their book…

Still… We must accept what life makes of our efforts and the author must accept the “place” the book wants to go, as well as what readers want to make of the book…

The rest of that reader’s comment is still being processed and I may have to delay fully commenting until I’ve mined it for more meaning—rather like certain situations in my life—rather like certain situations in books…

Though, I do get some tentative meaning:

Life and books are being constantly re-written and the stories can certainly seem to blend into or clash with each other—we can either accept the situation or we can go a bit mad under the relentless flow—books take us places we may not expect nor like—life certainly does the same…

Yet, a book we don’t like can be put down and a life course can be abandoned…

Perhaps, the best advice, at times, is to find a book you like better—re-write your future with fresh plans…

Have I made any sense for you?

Have something to add to the conversation?

Have a few questions you’d like to ask?

Do, please, leave a comment or two…

The conversation continues on Wednesday :-)
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Investigative Journalists Are Storytellers, Too…

What is an Investigative Journalist?

One set of broad identifiers is on the JournalismFund.EU site:

  • Critical approach – focus is on what does not work and in one way or another can be described as anomaly.
  • Important subject – only a question of importance for the common good can motivate the amount of effort and resources, that very well may have to be invested in the research as well as the criticism uttered in the publication.
  • Own initiative – journalists/editors decide, what is important.
  • Own research – the reporter gathers information and documents, sometimes in spite of tough resistance.
  • Own analysis – the information gathered and the documents are evaluated. An expert can assist in the analysis, but publication does not depend on what someone says.
  • Exclusivity – the public learns important information, that else would not have been in the open.

And, an article in Salon explores, Why We’re Living in the Golden Age of Investigative Journalism

“For investigative reporting, injustice is the gift that just keeps giving….These may be tough times, lean times, difficult times, but don’t be fooled: they’re also boom times.  There can be no question that, if you’re a reader with access to the Internet, you’re living in a new golden age of investigative journalism.”

Yet, if you read the broad definition of what an investigative journalists does (in the quote from the JournalismFund site), the focus of such a journalist’s work need not be pure injustice…

FlavourMag has an article called, Courageous And Unstoppable: Award-Winning Journalist Jenny Kleeman Sets The Record Straight.

Jenny Kleeman -- Investigative Journalist

Jenny Kleeman — Investigative Journalist

I’ll use Ms. Kleeman as an example of a storytelling journalist with a few excerpts from the FlavourMag article:

“Having tiptoed through war-torn countries, tackling corruption and appearing as a witness in the trial of the first ever Nigerian trafficker to be convicted in the UK, Jenny’s standing on the frontline as a narrator is astonishing”

I do believe a “narrator” is telling a story or tale or, at least, a report…

“I think you have to remember when you’re in emotionally difficult situations that the story is not about you, so you must be able to keep your composure, or at least save the bulk of your emotions when you’re not on camera.”

Probably don’t need to point this out but she did say “story”…

And, she’s apparently kept her humanity:

“You think maybe I would be a bit more cynical having seen the things that I have seen but actually, it’s made me a bit of a hippie as I’ve come away with a really positive view on human nature.”

And, Jenny also reveals a bit of behind the scenes knowledge:

“Part of the way that we get access is through local people who we work with. Every film that I work on I have a local producer, they are called fixers in the business, but in reality that means it’s a local person who makes all the calls for us and whose judgement we rely on in every single situation. What usually happens is we would come up with an idea for a story and they would be our guide, the quality of the producer can make or break a film. I have worked on films with some remarkable people, as well as some who were not so great and you really do see the difference on screen.”


I’ll give you a link to Jenny’s site and ask you to watch a video, then decide if investigative journalists can be storytellers (in fact, fiction writers would do well to notice how these folks tell their stories...):

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Social Networks Can Seem So Irrelevant ~ Unless You Can Find The Stories . . .

Back in October of 2011 I wrote the post My Cure for Social Networking Anxiety and I want to update some of my opinions and add a layer to the story

What I said:

“There are many reasons to pursue social networking.

“There are as many reasons to not pursue it.

“One thing I’ve learned is that social networking can induce anxiety


It may seem obvious but the anxiety only comes if you use social networking in ways that go against your Nature

What I said:

[After explaining some of my anxiety, back then, with social networks]

“* I still feel there are valid and productive reasons to use social networks.

“* I know there are some wonderful people on social networks.”


Enter the ability to turn divergent elements of social networking into a Story!

With my strong focus on what I need to do to promote my novel, Notes from An Alien, and to keep blogging intelligently here and attending to my duties as Events Manager on Book Island in Second Life, I sometimes miss the introduction of Internet tools that are valuable

I just explored the potential of a tool called Storify.

Here are some of the things they say about themselves:

Introducing social stories
“Storify lets you curate social networks to build social stories, bringing together media scattered across the Web into a coherent narrative. We are building the story layer above social networks, to amplify the voices that matter and create a new media format that is interactive, dynamic and social.”

Curate the elements
“Drag and drop status updates, photos or videos to bring together the social media elements that will best illustrate your story. You can always reorder elements in your story, or delete them if you find something better. And you can always add more items later on. Your story is always editable, so you can pull in the latest from the social web.”

Embed stories anywhere
“Storify stories can be embedded anywhere on the Web by simply pasting an embed code, just like embedding a video. You can also connect Storify to your WordPress or Drupal blog, publish to Tumblr or Posterous, or send an email newsletter through Mailchimp.”

Discover stories
“Our front page displays the latest and best stories built with social media by our users. You can read a story and interact with its elements, share it, find similar stories and more stories from that author.”

I’m still playing with Storify’s potential for telling stories and, if I find it useful in my career, I’ll let ya know :-)
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When’s The Last Time Someone Read You A Story?

Remember the joy of being read to?

Was your last time when you were a child? Has anyone read to you in your adulthood?

Ever been to an author reading?

I remember, when I was in my 50s, having someone read Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy to me—pure joy! :-)

I found a post by Kimberly Mayer called The Power of Story in which she says:

“The long lost art of readings, where writings are offered as gifts. I come away from each one knowing I am holding and have been entrusted with an enormous bouquet. Readings reintroduce each one of us to the primal importance of story. At a reading we are in that heaven again and wonder why it ever stopped?”

I guess I’m lucky my friend read Douglas Adams’ story to me.

I know I appreciate the author readings I facilitate on Book Island in the virtual world Second Life.

We gather at the Book Island Library at 1pm US Pacific Time for our Open Mic; folks from many countries—each represented by our avatars (the particular figure you adopt to represent you in a virtual world—some folks go for fidelity to their Real Life selves, some are far more creative).

There’s the lady from Wales with the intriguing voice and her often dark stories

There’s the man from Maryland who reads his MicroFiction (short, short, short stories)

There’s the avatar, Car Johnson, representing the main character from Rebekah Webb’s book

Plus, we never know when someone new will show up, reading portions from published stories or works in progress

What is the Magic of Story?

How does it’s texture change from when reading to ourselves to being read to?

What does it feel like inside when you’ve read to a child?

Have you ever read to an adult?

Have you ever had a story read to you as an adult?

Does it makes sense that some of the Power of Story comes from our Unconscious—from the race memories of our ancestors, long before folks put their stories down on rock or paper?
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