moving into the forest

Do you know about trees? They stand together and yet apart in a forest, each rising with its own dignity and strength, competing against all the other trees around them for the light. What a wonderful metaphor they make for the human race.

Except of course that's wrong. Trees are intricately connected. Their roots entwine, they share messages, they help each other grow. A forest is a community. Trees don't compete at all. You never see a pine reaching out to shove its neighbour away from the light. The idea of natural competition, of life being a pitched battle for survival, is merely a human concept.

This past week, I have watched the world and come to believe that human society is becoming less like the reality of the forest. It seems there is little instinct left in us for care and community. Many, many individuals still have it, but as a society we celebrate other values, such as the individual pursuit of greatness and of personal fulfillment. We consider it wisdom and strength to throw away anything in our lives that does not support our own happiness ... to fight and strive always to be the best ... and to give little value to other people's opinions, trusting only our own inner voice.


As a writer, I am taught to keep readers away from my writing experience - although once the story is written, the tables turn and I have to remove myself from their reading experience. Only the story itself stands as a threshold between my creation of that story and their recreation of it as readers.

This is very unlike the old ways of storytelling, where the teller would ask her audience what they wanted to hear - something spooky! the story about the bear king! the time Nana spilled the wine! - or where she considered what would serve them best at that time, according to their needs. Then, in her telling, she was right there at the heart of the story. Her voice, her eyes, her very breath, wove further meaning through the words. Storytelling was a relationship between the three spirits of teller, tale, and told.

And so today I have a question for you. As many of you know, most of my stories involve magic in one way or another. I have a sense that, for a large portion of my audience, this is not what they would usually read. If asked what kind of magic they prefer, they'd say none at all. (I may be wrong, of course.) However, for those who don't mind, I offer the following poll. It's anonymous, so I do hope very much that you will consider leaving a response.


What do you prefer to read?

Fantasy (in an imaginary setting)
Mythic fiction (in a modern setting with magical elements)
online polls

The reason I ask is that we have a rather special plan for our next fundraising project which we hope to develop by around the late middle of this year. I am facing two story pathways which lure me equally, and it seemed the best way to move ahead was to seek opinions from the people who I hope will one day be walking with me through the story.

Finally today, another question. I could no longer bear the pop-up combox window, and have returned to embedded comments. Are you still seeing the captcha when you comment? I have always switched off comment moderation and verification, but it came up automatically with the pop-up window.  Hopefully a return to embedded comments has removed it?

24 comments:

  1. I think our society wants us to see nature as always in competition. It gives society justification for trying to conquer it.

    But I'm with you, sarah, the connected life of an entire forest, trees and everything, is a delicate dance of shared experience.

    Until I hit "publish", I do not know if it will ask for the captcha. I'll let you know.

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  2. Nope, I still had to prove I'm not a robot.

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    1. Bother! That's so annoying! Sorry! :-( I would switch to squarespace or elsewhere in a second if I could afford it.

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  3. I love this and agree with you so. This makes me think of my 3 year old, Pearl. Every night I tell her a story and ask her what she wants the story to be about. She tells me a few things and I start the story. As I am telling it she starts interjecting with other things she wants in the story until she is just telling the story herself! I love it so. I'm thinking she may be a writer herself one day... Xx

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    1. And.... I didn't have the captcha, went straight to published!

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    2. That makes me think my mad crazy theory might be veering towards truth - that google is trying to get everyone to sign in using google identities ... in other words, joining google-plus ... so they can avoid the captcha,

      A while ago they changed all the photos on blogger blogs, "improving" them with contrast etc - without permission - thus forcing bloggers to join google-plus so they had access to the settings mechanism that would stop such "improvements."

      I am very, very grateful for my free and highly adaptable blog, but I know google are all about money.

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  4. Hee. Didn't do the poll because I would have clicked both :-)

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    1. Me too! Hence the poll! I can't decide myself :-)

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    2. Me three! I like both! :) I was just reading today in my celtic book about how they considered trees the bridge between heaven and earth...roots in the world, heads in heaven. I've been looking at trees all day. I love that they talk to each other and form communities too....what a wonderful world. (Not ignoring the sad things you wrote about, but today I just want to think about beautiful things. *grin*)

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    3. Celtic mythology is a wondrous and wonder-full thing.

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  5. I did it but either is good or a combo. I love the photo.

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  6. I did not have to prove myself that time.

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  7. I think it also depends on which identity you use when you comment. Sometimes when I'm not allowed as a Wordpress person, I can choose the option "Name/URL" and get through. As a WP reply I get the captcha, but only in a blink and it switches to preview which somehow covers up the authentication box and I can't get past Publish. It's just here, I commented on another Blogger blog yesterday. With the other option it works, but I still have to authenticate.

    I don't have a preference for the poll, I like either.

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  8. what lovely news about your new project. Your writing fills me with delight ;-) the one thing about being a writer/poet is it can be a lonely path whilst one is writing, but the actual story reading or storytelling, blogging etc; how nurturing and connecting it is! comment box update for you: I can now post as name/url yay!!!! thanks for persisting with it.

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  9. more comment box news: I still have to prove I am not a robot, but that's fair enough, you just have to tick a box after all but you now longer have to do the captcha thingy! soooooo much better ;-)

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  10. both are equally enchanting and enticing, but I'm a fantasy girl at heart. I wrote a paper on robust modal realism in undergrad and basically complained the *whole* time what a cop-out it was for this theory- that multiple realities exist, but we cannot traverse them. My appetite for visiting other worlds must be sated with story. :)

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    1. Me too. I've always been a fantasy girl. To be honest, mythic fiction irritates me a bit too. But I can understand why most adult women, if they have to read about magic, would prefer a modern setting than something which is generally considered YA and for geeks. For me, I love fantasy that is close to fairy tale.

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  11. I clicked "fantasy" because I think it comes closest to folk tales, but also because I put Tolkien into that category. I love stories that are quiet and deep and speak to the magic in nature - growth, transformation, shifts and changes - like the Selkie stories of Ireland, or the mythical peoples of different cultures. I love stories that speak to the truth of life. "Star Wars" holds no charm for me - but Native American stories of the animals and birds seem eternal. LOLOL - not much help, huh?
    I just put in name/url because I don't have a blog or website. I usually have to authenticate - but it's doesn't seem like a big deal.

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    1. Yes, me too! Folk tales, fairy tales, the old kind of stories. Where you can get tremendous richness and resonance of spirit and culture and self in a way that it's hard to do in a modern setting.

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  12. I just want to point out something weird that I just noticed on blogspot with my own comments. I don't have moderation on my blog and I was signed in, I responded to several people on my own blog and then it would not let me respond anymore after 3. It shut me off as if I were spamming my own blog!

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    1. Weird. It's so great the Blogger provides this free service, and they've never snuck in adverts as I was always sure they would, but I still suspect them of nefarious back-room machinations ;-) Either that or they're genuinely trying to protect us from spam.

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