STORIES FROM THE DECK
Tales read in five minutes
James Joyce once remarked: “He [Hemingway] has reduced the veil between literature and life, which is what every writer strives to do. Have you read ‘A Clean Well-Lighted Place’?…It is masterly. Indeed, it is one of the best short stories ever written…”
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway is 1500 words; typical readers read 300 words a minute—it’s a five-minute read, the perfect short story. Discovering that my 600-word posts are minimal at best; just bite-size, digestive reads that could lead a reader to hunger for the rest of the story is disappointing but challenging. An optimal word size blog is the 1500 words of Hemingway’s ‘A Clean Well lighted Place’—the five-minute read.
I struggle writing 600; commonly frustrated with my lack of progress finding the words. That means 1500 words will be three times as frustrating. I am not Hemingway or James Joyce. I am a two-finger typist on an apple computer; Ernest Hemingway slammed the keys of a 1929 Underwood Standard. Hemingway once told Ava Gardner that the only psychologist he would ever open up to was his typewriter. I am not alone in my typing skills; “I still only type with one Finger” – George R.R Martin. It is not the speed but the content of the written word. My writing effort is all about telling a great story in as minimalistic words as possible; non-flowery words but those that come from the deep.
Everything I read about writing and the art of storytelling beckons me to be willing to write crappy stories and fail myself into improvement—just writing this sentence, I misspelled beckon. There is hope; I have tread this path before—not writing, carpentry. After completing a four-year stay in the Vietnam-era US Navy, I ventured back home and decided to make this my home by building a house. How hard could it be? Seventeen years taught me how to fail in building a house, yet it was a home in the end. We have made and or remodeled six places in the following forty-eight years—were still building. We have risen to a craftsman; it required a fifty-year investment in failing. You gain nothing by residing in your comfort zone, within a safe, never-fail envelope.
Words and Pictures is my first writing home to build; an uncomfortable place, an apprentice armed and ready for failure. Words and Pictures is a short storytelling blog, a five-minute read. The vision is to work my craft to tell great, at least exciting stories that provide education or entertainment for the mind and eyes. I had hoped that combining words with pictures would ease the pain of my writing struggles. What is the topic of this article? Sharing stories, we talk stories every day, facts about ourselves and our day. When we embellish our stories, they become fiction; everyone stretches the truth. If we want to improve our lives and others, we need to become craftspeople at telling truthful good-news stories. Storytelling is in our DNA…
The night was pitch black in prehistoric times; the earth was a dark-sky planet. Every visible star brightly illuminated the sky on a moonless night. An early man told stories around the fierce glow of a raging fire and painted cave drawings to capture moments of the Mastodon kill. Storytelling is the woven cloth of creation; it is God’s chosen method to communicate with humans. The Bible is God’s story to man, an instruction manual on living a righteous moral life. The words of the Bible are God-breathed, the message of creation, the fall of man, and God’s redemption of humankind—captured in words written by His chosen people. It is a Love filled message to humanity—the story of God’s struggle to bring all His children home.
Jesus was a storyteller; his choice for communicating moral messages were parables. Parable means short story, usually about morality and virtue. The parable of the sower is 111 power-packed words—576 characters with spaces that captured the attention of the disciples and a few billion followers.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seeds fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still, other seeds fell on good soil, producing a crop—a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
This parable did not end with—”The moral of the story is…” it leaves the interpretation to the listener’s heart. It is a call to the heart that can hear and see God.
Words and pictures are not the only way to tell the story. The oral storytelling art has continued for millennia, practiced around campfires, dining tables, and between a grandfather and his grandson on the porch. Storytelling is the conduit for wisdom, history, and entertainment—everyone loves a good story. Radio soon replaced the campfire gathering. The golden age of radio introduced storytelling to the masses. Shows like: The Shadow, Mystery Theater, Abbott and Costello, and Amos’ n Andy’ drew family’s close to refrigerator-sized radios; everyone focused on each word of the episode. Oral storytellers gather every fall at the National Storytellers Festival at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, https://www.storytellingcenter.net/ I have placed a visit to this fall festival in my bucket list to hear the great tellers of tales.
Visual communications evolved from the cave drawings of early humans, Egyptian hieroglyphs, indigenous art into today’s painting, drawing, photography, videography, and graphic arts. My dilemma is how do I, in 2021, best tell a story? I love photography and writing to convey my short stories—but do I include video in the stories I tell. Videography is a challenge for me, not just from an on-camera phobia but also from a good video’s required artistry and technology. My initial attempt at video storytelling is on Rumble at:
It is a story about whittling, done for the YouTube “Life in a Day” project. Videos have grown to storytelling immensely because video combines all storytelling crafts—written script, Oral, and visual communications. YouTube is the second most used search engine.
I have four hundred words remaining to close this story about storytelling and how it can change the world. The Apostle Paul said it in Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Telling a story through words and pictures is my meditation. I focus wholly on the scene and the telling of the tale. So the moral to this storyteller’s story about telling hearty stories is—tell a good news story using words or pictures to uplift another today. In the end, that is all we are is just stories—sharing stories make us feel a little less alone in the world.
Now the four images that each tell a complete 1500 word story of this past year. They are a testimonial to a divisive political pandemic year. The photos also show hope that life goes on even when it is a wild ride. I chose these four images because they tell a complete story of 2021. If someone would ask, “How was your last year?” I could place these on a table.
Hopefully, I have written an acceptable blog about telling tales and talking stories. I accepted the 1500 word challenge and fell a bit short. This message started at 4:30 am, and I will finish this draft at 8:07 am, then send it to Grammarly (my digital editor) for approval; attach the images and hope these words improve your day in some small way.
The featured image of today’s sunrise from our deck sparks my morning creativity and desire to tell visual, oral, and written tales. The view is always inspirational. I am eighty-five words short of the 1500 word goal— the images should undoubtedly make up for it, right?
One postscript—Hemingways’ A Clean Well-Lighted Place’ an excellent five-minute read at:
Darn forty-one words short.