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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Why We Write

This week: Henry Vogel

I looked around the room at the faces of some of my best friends. Those faces conveyed a range of emotions.

I saw anger.

I saw fear.

I saw determination.

All of it directed at me. Or, rather, the character I portrayed at the moment in the role playing game I was running. For those who are unfamiliar with them, good role playing games can be described as a live novel or, perhaps better, team storytelling. There are rules and dice and other things one associates with games. But mostly, good role playing games are about stories and words and emotions.

And that is the truly amazing thing about stories. The right collection of words form a story. The right story sparks our imagination. Our imagination evokes the whole range of emotions; wonder, fear, anger, horror, humor. It's kind of crazy when you think about it. A bunch of squiggles on a page or screen. A range of sounds from a mouth. Yet our brains translate those squiggles or sounds and returns emotions.

You all know that I'm a storyteller. I've written several times about role playing games, too. Both of these are verbal ways of conveying stories. And voice can be truly powerful, allowing the story to enter our imaginations directly and without the extra steps required to translate squiggles on a page into words and then plugging them into our imagination. But, powerful as the voice is, it is extremely limited, as well. My voice is not in your house. My voice is not in your car. My voice is here in Raleigh, North Carolina, no where near most of you who read the Friday Challenge.

So I write my stories down. Once written, my stories are ready whenever anyone wishes to read them. Those little squiggles on the page or the screen are always ready to enter your imagination and send forth emotions. The little squiggles can reach across vast distances and even across time, itself. As long as someone is around to read them, those little squiggles will do what I can only do in person (and while alive).

They evoke emotions.

Which is what stories are for.

And that is why I write.
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