“Hey Murph, do ya wanna build a snowmaaan . . ?
It’s no secret around the Murphey household that the sibs and I adored Disney’s latest film Frozen. Over the last two weeks, Kevin, Bree and I have managed to coerce, beguile and flat out bribe the rest of our family to the local theater just to watch the film again — mostly because the holiday season is all about swapping stories with those you love but also because a grown man attending an animated film alone is inviting sidelong glances from concerned parents and mall security.
As I mentioned elsewhere on this blog, stories enrich our lives, bestowing understanding, empathy, and wisdom. They also help to chase away boredom and offer the social American a talking point during Christmas parties before the spiked nog disengages the brain. The prevalence of stories and storytelling in all facets of our lives (entertainment, history, religion, politics, relationships) has always intrigued me to the point that I’ve often argued (usually after three Red-Solos of nog) that storytelling is the center of all human life: to create, discover, and retell tales. Of course, most listeners simply shrug off these notions as drunken rants (which many were; the nog is strong in my family) and shrug unimpressed “We communicate. All animals do it.”
The instruction booklet that arrives with your microwave communicates, but when was the last time anyone has actually read it. Mostly we avoid the words entirely, gazing at the diagrams and attempting to divine a message like a back-alley fortune teller staring at the bumps on your head for the night’s Mega-millions numbers. You add a sparkly vampire with predilection for vapid teenage repair-women and 90% of teenage girls become electrical engineers overnight. No, I’d argue that communication is a subset of storytelling, simply a really boring example of the craft, shorn of all metaphors, characters and sparkle-vampires — for that reason alone I’m willing to be more forgiving.
To me, stories nourish my soul and sustain my willpower through the work week like oxygen through the suit of an orbit-bound astronaut. Yet very few tales really satisfy your expectations: e.g. Mockingjay, Green Lantern, The Black Cauldron . . . Disney, you could have done so much better. Of the numerous books, movies, and TV shows that I immerse myself, only a handful of these truly manages the detailed world-building, charming characters, and multi-layered epics, which are near and dear to my heart. Still, this absence motivated me to write my own short stories.