sto·ry·tell·er noun \ˈstȯr-ē-ˌte-lər\ (First known use of STORYTELLER 1709) a teller of stories: as a : a relater of anecdotes b : a reciter of tales (as in a children’s library) c : liar, fibber d : a writer of stories
The italicized “writer” on the “d” definition is my own. When we sit in front of our computers and begin our love/hate relationship with the story we are struggling to develop, it may not seem that we are a part of a cultural activity that pre-dates the written word. The first known use of the term “bard” was in the 15th century and referred to “a composer, singer, or declaimer of epic or heroic verse.” There were storytellers before there was a term.
Storytellers the world over created myths for their peoples to explain natural phenomena, beliefs, or practices. These oral historians passed stories down from generation to generation until they were finally written down. Many times historians became the most revered and feared members of the tribe because of their knowledge.
We are modern storytellers. We weave everyday words together to create characters, conflict, and relationships. Our fiction takes the weary mother, executive, wife, or student to Ireland, the American West, indeed, all over the world. The reader becomes a teacher, apprentice mechanic, abused wife, or orphan, and experiences the ups and downs of that character.
We touch people with our work. We bring them pleasure and escape. As long as people need to connect with one another, there will be storytellers. We have joined a long line of elders, bards, poets, and troubadours who passed on their insights and imaginations to others. It makes all the work worth it.