I fell in love with stories as soon as I learned how to read them. As I was growing up, most of time after school was spent in the library looking for books that would catch my interest. There were a lot of authors I fell in love with immediately: Kenneth Grahame, Anne McCaffrey, C.S. Lewis, Robert C. O’Brien. Like most kids my age television was a really big influence too, and I remember Nickelodeon back during its salad days of Special Delivery, David the Gnome and its anime versions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I lived and breathed fantasy, and it didn’t matter what flavor it came in. If there was a comic book lying around, I read that. If there was a novel that caught my eye, I read that. If there was a TV show that I really loved, I tuned in every week. I grew up with a brain choked in a haze of stories.
The next step from being a voracious reader is becoming an aspiring writer, and I jumped into it with an electric typewriter and a desire to write a sequel to The Wind in the Willows. It never did take off, but I kept at it. I developed all kinds of games and stories, spin-offs of cartoons I loved and imagined tales of bit characters that I had been fascinated with. I told my sister really vulgar bedtime stories every night. I played pretend with the neighbor’s kids for far longer than I probably should have. And as I grew older, that desire to tell stories branched out into other areas. I discovered tabletop role-playing games in high school, as well as MUCKs, MUDs and MUSHes. I fell in love with theatre and poetry in college, and learned to play around with what those could do. Formalized vocal storytelling became a brief passion after I dropped out of college, and over time I’ve come to incorporate all of it. To me there’s no wrong way to tell a story — you can play Dungeons and Dragons, write short stories, act in a play, speak around the campfire, or write screenplays. It’s all fascinating in its own way. I love them all.
Stories are so much more than mere entertainment. By paying attention to the kinds of stories we tell and love, or the character types that come into fashion, or the genres that suddenly permeate the public’s consciousness, we discover things about ourselves that it would be difficult to find out any other way. Stories give us an outlet to talk about things we would find too painful otherwise, allow us to express truths we’d find hokey or shallow if spoken outright. They’re a mechanism we use for revealing and reaffirming who we are. It’s difficult to point at the direct influence they have, but it’s impossible to deny otherwise.
I’d like to use this blog to deconstruct and examine stories and the effect they have on us, from a variety of angles. I’ll talk about the stories I attempt to tell, the difficulties I have putting them together, and my thoughts on stories that affect me and seem to be affecting the society I live in. I want to take a look at our modern myths, the fictions we weave about our history, our present and our being. Stories can be a means to understanding our world, but they can also be our means of hiding from it too. Like any tool, we can use them for good or for ill.
This blog won’t be quite so lofty much of the time, I suspect — I just wanted to write up something that sounds impressive so I can talk about the stories I love and/or create. Role-playing games, TV shows, movies, books and comics are all fair game here, and I’ll be talking about it all. I’d love for you guys to join in the discussion as well; I’d love some help in solidifying and refining my theories or having my opinions refuted and debated. With respect, of course. While most people think of pop/geek culture as little more than a confection, I think that there are many deeper things that could be explored. I’d like to look at those together!