The Tale or the Teller

It is the tale, not he who tells it.


It is not the tale, but he who tells it.

The first quote comes right after the table of contents in Stephen King’s Different Seasons, and I’ve been thinking about it (and its opposite) for some time. After what I said about ideas, and how the same idea can manifest in totally different ways for different writers, my first impression is that it’s all about the teller, not the tale. The author brings his own experience into that fantasy novel, and because of that, it’s different from any other fantasy novel ever published. The teller makes the tale what it is. The Cuckoo’s Calling, which J.K. Rowling published under a pseudonym, did not achieve much success until she was revealed to be its author. That’s when people started to read and critique the book. Some Stephen King books would probably never be read if they were written by other authors; the plot of Carrie in the hands of someone else may not have had enough power to get anywhere or launch any careers. And some people read whatever they can find by a particular author, whether they care for the premise of the story or not.

But if you are one of those authors who is fortunate enough to have his works live on long after he’s dead, then it slowly becomes more about the tale itself and not the teller. We don’t know much about the life of Aesop, but we sure do know his fables. Similarly, many aspects of the lives of the biblical writers are lost to us, but their stories have lived on and inspired millions. Also, we can vividly remember the plot and characters of a book we read as a teenager or child, but we can’t remember the author’s name at all. I would also say that fanfiction is more about the tale than about the teller; some people become so captivated by the world, the characters, and the plot of certain stories that they become the teller so they can expand on the tale. It is ultimately the story that has significance, not necessarily the cult of personality around the author.

If I were to publish something, I would definitely want it to be more about the story than about me. The story should have enough power and capture enough imaginations that it becomes able to take on its own life, so to speak. They always say that writing is a way for mortals to achieve immortality, but that’s a post for another day. :)

Musings on Ideas

Can ideas be stolen? I’m not so sure. In a way, ideas are a little like pixies. They come and go as they please, and they show themselves to people in different ways. Two people can get the same or a similar idea, but if that idea is implemented and expanded upon, it will end up looking very different, and that well-developed idea is what could possibly be plagiarized.

Even so, I don’t believe in sharing the idea for your story when you’ve just come up with it. It’s so exciting to finally get a new idea for a plot or character that you can’t wait to share it with people, but sometimes it’s better to let an idea marinate for a while.

Why is it best to let ideas sit?

  • They may not really work, especially if your idea comes from a dream. It might sound epic and flawless when you first wake up, but when it meets the light of day, you’ll start to see the holes.
  • You might come up with a better or more well-developed idea after thinking about it for a while.
  • Now might not be the best time to work on the idea. Ideas like to show up when you’re not poised to work on them, like when you’re in the middle of a totally different story. In that case, it’s best to write them down and come back to them later.
  • If you share your idea immediately, it may become less exciting. Also, if you share your idea with others, they may hold you accountable for producing something based on it. “Hey, didn’t you have that awesome idea for a book about time-traveling vampires and werewolves? Have you written anything yet?”

Ideas are a dime a dozen. If you forget one or lose it somewhere or if it suddenly departs without a trace, you can rest assured that there are many more. But not necessarily where the old one came from.

Liebster Award (#5)

Thanks very much to Jessica at ellDimensional for giving me the Liebster Award!


So you’re supposed to write 11 facts about yourself (why 11? such a random number), then answer 11 questions posed by the person who gave you the award, then write 11 questions for the people to whom you give the award.

This is going to be a post of mindless self-centeredness, so I advise you to skip it if you don’t like that kind of thing. :)

11 facts

1. I don’t put milk in my cereal. For some reason, it grosses me out.
2. I was born in the Year of the Dragon. Maybe that explains why I like dragons so much.
3. I’ve been to a tractor pull. You have to be Southern to enjoy them.
4. I’ve never been on a roller coaster. They’re scary.
5. Someone once told me that I reminded them of Adrian from the Rocky series.
6. People also tell me that I look extremely serious. (I guess that’s better than looking foolish.)
7. My normal wake-up time is 5:30. My bedtime is somewhere between 9 and 9:30. Even on weekends. Not sure how healthy, wealthy, or wise that makes me.
8. As much as I love talking about myself on this blog, I hate talking about myself in real life.
9. I don’t like writing in composition books or any kind of notebook that isn’t spiral bound. I like something that can fold over easily.
10. This might be an introvert thing: I really dislike talking to people but really enjoy watching them.
11. I’ve never had my nails done, and the last time I painted them must have been more than 10 years ago.

11 questions (some of these were tough):

1. How old were you when you began writing?

I guess 7 or so. I wrote my first “real” story when I was 9. I remember forcing myself to write one page a day until the story was done, because I had started a few stories by that time but never finished them, and (even at 9) I was mad at myself for that. So I did finish the story—and yes, I still have it, and sometimes I think upon it with much affection.

2. If you could move anywhere, where would you go?

Somewhere with fewer cars and fewer people, so I can be a hermit.

3. Do you have a familiar–I mean, a pet?

Two small dogs and three cats. They are annoying and adorable to varying degrees. (Of course, like any pet owner, I could go on and on about my adorable furballs, but I won’t bore you!)

4. What is your favorite book, and why?

William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury because he takes fairly ordinary events and a fairly ordinary Southern family and transforms them into something of beauty and lasting significance.

5. What are your other hobbies?

Reading, teaching catechism classes, walking extremely fast wherever I go, being Captain Obvious.

6. If you become any age you wanted, what age would that be, and why?

Maybe 11. You’re not exactly a child anymore, you’re not in the annoying teenage years yet, and you don’t have any adult responsibilities.

7. If you could travel to any time or place, where would you go?

Sicily, the land of my ancestors.

8. What is your strength?

Being patient with people.

9. Do you have any tattoos?

Nope. I find tattoos fascinating, but I wouldn’t want any of my own.

10. What is your favorite food/dish?

Anything involving pasta.

11. What is the most recent book you’ve read?

Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. It’s somewhat of a horror classic. If you liked the original Wicker Man movie, you’ll like this one. (But don’t watch the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man. It is horrible.)

For my 11 questions, I’m going to cheat. The nominees can answer the 11 questions I just answered. And my nominees are…

  1. Tina D.C. Hayes
  2. Bridgett Morigna
  3. Crispy Confessions

Thanks again to Jessica for nominating me!