As part of my happiness project, I’ve been pondering the direction of my life and the things that make me happy. I looked to what I do in my leisure time. I bake a lot, and make various army-catering-quantity sized meals for family and friends. I also read a lot of cookery books, which I wrote about in Contents magazine, in my piece The Gingerbread Project savouring the descriptions of each dish, even those I have little intention to ever make, and the notes the author brackets them with.
I play video games, especially adventure games like the Zelda series, and read critical analysis of video games and games culture. I’ve just got started with Skyward Sword (and I got Skyrim for Christmas – damn there goes all my free time!) plus I have Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap and Ocarina of time on my 3DS right now. I adore the Ace Attorney series and its offshoots. I like interactive fiction. I just recently watched the Penny Arcade Dungeons and Dragons live games and started to explore what Dungeons and Dragons is and how it works (not as a player, so much as an interested observer).
I read books. In the last few years, after a long absence due to overkill at university (hello English degree) I have got back into reading fiction and listening to audiobooks. Audiobooks especially force me to slow down and take in the breadth of a new world; my husband accuses me of skim reading every book I own, which I don’t, but the speed at which I read can sometimes detract from the beauty of the words laid out in front of me. After years of dodging the classics, after the aforementioned overkill, I recently bought a copy of Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature’s 50 Greatest Hits which starts with the Iliad and works in date order through to works of the twentieth century, via The Old Testament, Beowulf, Dante, Milton, Bronte, Tolstoy, Joyce, Kafka, Nabakov and many others.
I scrapbook. I write titbits of information about our family, I take pictures of where we go, I put books together of us as a family – who we are, what we do, what we are like. I am our family’s story keeper. I am our family’s story teller.
So, what is the connection here?
It is, I think, story.
I love narratives. I love when they weave strands and come together, knot up, fall apart and realign. I love the magic of people creating a world in their hand and building it for others to explore and to understand. Yesterday I read some hilarious cook’s notes on a failed Christmas pudding and the fallout from that, played a game where a hero must set out to fulfill a prophesy, and read the beginning of an epic war poem where two men are right now stood in front of their armies proposing a dual to settle their quarry while the gods have other ideas.
I started to write a piece for Contents that was about narrative, its history and its place in our everyday lives, but I realised I didn’t know nearly enough and I wanted to explore the topic with people that create narratives – not just in traditional novel form, or even in a published long form – but to come to understand what story means to humans.
As such, I have created a new site (not yet live, but it will be at http://tellingtal.es) in which I am going to explore the topic of story. I hope it will be informative. I hope it will encourage people to see story as a ribbon woven throughout their lives, connecting people and things together. Mostly I hope it will be fun.
I plan to do a series of video interviews, written interviews and explorations in different mediums. I plan to stick myself in all kinds of weird situations from archivist offices to battle re-enactment, tabletop gaming to a writing class, and share what I learn along the way.