“Nobody reads on the internet.”
That’s a common claim these days. And it may well be true. We’ve got tons of news sites and link share services that provide lists of this and quizzes about that, but there isn’t a lot there in the way of the word. After all, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Well, nuts to that. I believe that a thousand words can be worth a million pictures. In a book, you can see and imagine and feel and smell and taste things that not even the most decadent photo of a food porn could evoke. The written word is humanities oldest and more refined technology, after all. Think about it. If I write crown, you don’t need a picture because your brain–the supercomputer–makes one for you. A story is just a string of those images, linked with feelings and passions and fears.
Better yet, a story connects you with its writer. The words you read on the screen or the page are direct from the writer’s brain. When you read The Shining you connect with Stephen King. Great stories are passports into the minds of other people. That’s pretty incredible. And that’s (at least part of) why Antoine and I started Onceupon–our storytelling in places app. It’s also the reason why I believe narrative strategy is so important for businesses and organizations. Stories are everything. Stories connect us to places, and to people. They help us understand that even in a city full of strangers, we’re all battling our way through life, having ups and downs and all arounds. They tell us what we think about a business or app or organization before we’ve even experienced them.
I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. I wrote a little book about dinosaurs in the first or second grade. It might still be bound and laminated at the Sedalia Elementary library. Later in elementary school, my mom bought a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie notebook and I filled the thing with stories about a tiny adventurer named Quark who hunted for treasure all over the galaxy while flying his spaceship made out of a 2-liter Coke bottle. I write because I want to, I need to, and I have to. I hope Onceupon can be a gift for anyone like me, but I also hope that Onceupon knocks down some of the barriers that make writing so hard for many.
We all have stories about the places we’ve been, and the things we’ve seen and felt. We should be uniting around the experiences we share, and rallying around the ones we go through uniquely. Maybe liking a photo is enough for some moments, but most stories need more than a few “thousand words” to tell. Through storytelling and great narrative, we can start to understand our fellow humans better… and with that, our world.
Keep living, loving and writing.