Saturday, June 30, 2018

There will always be storytellers

When I was a child, the principal at my school was an avid storyteller. He would hold assemblies for us students in the gym, which had a gorgeous mural on one wall of the turtle carrying the world on its back. We'd sit cross-legged on the shiny gym floor as our principal brought out his guitar and played along while he told us stories in French and English.

I can't remember which stories he told. What I do remember was the experience. The atmosphere. The rapture and the wonderment.

I loved stories, as a child. I couldn't get enough. My aunts were great storytellers and I gravitated toward them. I could never understand why my mother, who grew up in the same house with them, refused to tell stories. I asked all the time. "Tell me a story from when you were kids." She always said she didn't know any stories, she didn't remember. But my aunts had stories galore. Even if they were the same ones sometimes, I didn't mind.

It didn't bother me to hear the same stories more than once because that's how I memorized them. That's how my family stories became a part of me, handed down from one generation to the next.

When my school principal retired, he went on to become a full-time storyteller. A professional storyteller, a member of Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada and former president of Storytelling Toronto.

Sometimes we come to our true calling later in life, and I think that was the case with my school principal. We might spend the course of another career honing our craft, gearing up for the big show.

That's sort of how I felt when I started recording my fiction in audio format. I've written a whole lot of erotica and queer fiction in my 12 years as a professional writer, but long before my writing career took off, I was a theatre student. Yes, it's true: I trained as an actor.

Looking back, I see that the impulse to act and the impulse to write come from the same place: the will to tell stories.

Reading my writing is such a powerful experience, for me, because it's a confluence of joys. That's why I appreciate my Audio Erotica patrons so very much. That's why I appreciate those of you who purchase my audiobooks or listen to them via your local library service. Thank you for allowing me to share my voice. It means the world.

These days, it's not so easy to be a writer. Scratch that--it's easier than ever to publish your work. The hard part is making money.

As you know, I make a living from my writing. This is my career. I don't have a part-time (or full-time) job to supplement my income. I rely on book sales, which are quickly swirling toward the drain. As algorithms on big e-commerce sites favour paid advertising, it's harder to make money without a big ad spend. And since I don't spend money on ads, well, that leaves me looking in other directions to earn a living off my fiction.

Audio is quickly becoming my saviour, in that regard. I love telling my stories. I'm able to do it. There are ears out there that want to listen. Your ears. I'm gushing with gratitude. I really am.

Many of the authors I know are about ready to throw in the towel. Quite a few already have. It's frustrating, going from earning a healthy income off your fiction to earning next to nothing. I understand that. Boy, do I understand!

But I also understand that the impulse to tell a story, whether it's on screen or around a campfire or on the page, is impossible to extinguish. Those of us who have chosen to hone our storytelling skills will continue to do so in one form or another.

If you're an author who is struggling, I want you to hold this in your heart: it's only the form that changes. We will go on telling stories. Why? Because there have always been storytellers. There always will be.

Again, my endless gratitude goes out to those who support my audio endeavours on Patreon. If you aren't yet a patron, I encourage you to join up for weekly audio erotica. At last count, there were nearly 10 hours of backlist audio available to patrons. I would be so pleased to share my voice with you.

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