My daughters like to listen to books on CD when they are crafting. The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis) and the Redwall series (Brian Jacques) recordings are their favorites since they are full productions, with actors for each roll. Redwall is delightfully narrated in thick Scottish brogue and includes all the songs, which the girls used to sing constantly (though now they sing pop songs, sigh).
Today, walking through the cellar to put in a load of laundry, past their sketching and painting, I was struck by the rhythm of the story on the CD player; as if it were written to be heard, rather than read. I thought, yeah, I want to write like that.
Our stories began as vocal art, told at fairs and festivals, retold year after year. Each new storyteller added her own excitement by introducing some magic or elaborating on the description of the castle or killing off a lesser character in a dramatic fashion. The story changed; sometimes they were forgotten and later revived; often just forgotten though replaced by new stories.
Whether changed or repeated verbatim, the voice was an important part of the art. Years ago, when I ran a program at the museum for preschoolers, storytelling was a big part of it; it was my favorite part. When I taught elementary school, I read out loud every day. But, these past few years, as I have started playing with writing, when I began the journey to become a writer, I forgot all about that voice.
On my writing “to do” list this month is to read my work out loud and pay attention to that rhythm. Fortunately, I have two days a week when the kids go to school and the husband goes to work and the only one who will be around to hear me is the dog. I love to tell others’ stories to a crowd, but I’m not ready to perform my own work. I will be, though. I don’t have bawdy ballads like Brian Jaques, nor an instantly poetic sounding brogue, but, still, I can make all of my words sing.