On writing for children...and ourselves
The writer's journey

For the storytellers


"Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds' eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas-abstract, invisible, gone once they've been spoken -- and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created."

Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions & Wonders)

Leat 2

Oak and words


The Wrong Way Round

Story itself will not make you rich.
Your imagination outstrips any journey.
You arrive in Ithica as poor as you left,
an arrowburied in your armpit,
Death's imperious knock
is about to shatter your door.
None of that matters but the story
you have told, to hunter at campfires,
to children at bedtime,
to kings in their throne rooms.
It is all the same.
There may be a thousand poems
bound up in fascicles
left in your bottom drawer.
A song on tape you shared with no one.
The unsold art still hanging
in your brother's atelier.
The manuscript unearthed after your death.
Do the work because you must.
Tell the story because it is in your bones.
You will probably not become rich by it,
except enriched in your own heart.
But did Aesop become a wealthy man?
Did J who wrote a good part of the Bible
live her life out in luxury?
Did the old gran at the fire making up tales
always go to bed with a good diner in her belly?
It is the story we count on, the art, the poem.
Not the coin which only feeds for a day,
but the story that fills the audience and teller
for the rest of their listening lives.

©2020 Jane Yolen all rights reserved


An important point brilliantly made, Jane. Even so, it would be good to earn a little more than a pittance sometimes!

Hi Jane

Do the work because you must.
Tell the story because it is in your bones.
You will probably not become rich by it,
except enriched in your own heart.

What a beautiful and truthful idea. We must tell the story because it's what our spirit/soul craves. It is our way of extending ourselves be beyond time. You make this point with such wonderful details and inquiry. We live on through the stories we tell and write. Thank you so much for sharing this one. As always, I enjoy reading your work. It inspires me!

Take care -
my best to you and yours,

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