Campfire Tales, Stories and Writing
Ever since our earliest ancestors created a common language, storytelling has been a big part of our collective conscience. From tales told over the communal fire to modern oral traditions, storytelling helped to shape our lives. Before there was the printed word, there was the orator, who would often travel from settlement to settlement, telling stories and spreading tales. Some were true and others were fantastical. Thus, the creation of fictional stories began.
Many early tales were just retellings of heroic battles or brave warriors who had done the nigh impossible. There are still stories of that sort that circulate today. I could tell you dozens of stories from my time in uniform. Tales of the men and women who I was proud to call brother and sister, doing impossible tasks for a public that would likely never know what they had done. But we did, and we remembered. Many of those tales are told to young officers, even today. The history of those who have gone before lingers still in the men and women in uniform and I pray it always does.
Originally, that was what fueled my writing. I was inspired by some amazing people who did a thankless job and put themselves on the line. Many of the characters in the Ragnarok Rising Saga are based on real officers that I knew while I was a Corrections Officer. Since then, I have worked as a patrol officer and security supervisor. My list of inspirations continues to grow. For those of you “in the know” a big shout out to Bret Taylor, Brian Forester, Tyler Clark, Matt Roper, Terry Branscom, Rich Tew, Corey Hart, Kate Hughes, Joe Mahan, Andy Benjamin, Kate Ross and many, many more that I could name. You all inspired me to do more and be more than I thought I ever could be. I learned so much from all of you and tried to emulate your example. Thank you all.
Epic tales were handed down through the centuries by our ancestors and the tradition continues today. Once the invention of the Gutenberg Printing Press arrived, it became much easier for written books to be available for everyone. As civilization and time progressed, the ability to print and the fact that most people had learned to read, the tales became easier to be retold and handed down to the next generation. Books on virtually every subject suddenly erupted into print once the printing press was established and made available to the world.
Modern writing, both fiction and non-fiction, are merely extensions of the original spoken tales and legends. Fiction, in particular, became the vehicle for telling tales of exploits that may or may not have ever really happened. New genres and styles emerged. New tales flourished and found their way into our lives. Where would we be now without some of the greats in the literary world who paved the way for the rest of us? We can all remember great stories that we felt deeply on an emotional level. Stories that told us that good could triumph over evil and there were still heroes in this world. We needed those stories, especially when everything else in the world seems bleak. In dark times, stories become all the more important.
Where would we be without the storytellers? The writers and dreamers? The spinners of tales and the singers of songs? We’d be lost in the hopelessness of despair and have no means of escape. The best stories have always been a vehicle in which your mind can experience virtually anything, go anywhere, be anyone, live in any time. Fiction is the heart and soul of human existence. We all experience it, every day and in so many aspects of our lives. Do you read comic books? Do you read books? Watch TV? Listen to music? Watch movies? All of those are products of a writer. Reality TV is, as well. That’s all scripted for ratings.
My point is simple. We need writers in our lives. We need to encourage the written word and encourage our children to read. Mark Twain said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” Read that sentence again and really let it sink in. If you learned to read, you already have the literary world at your fingertips. If you know someone who can’t read, help them to learn. Reading is one of the greatest joys I know in this world. You can learn, experience, travel, share and feel so much that you wouldn’t otherwise. Reading can take you quite literally anywhere. And, the best part is, if you get a library card, the literary world is at your fingertips for FREE. That’s right, it’s all free. Reading is the ultimate achievement of man. Without it, nothing else we’ve done would have been possible. Without it, we’d still be scratching stick figures on cave walls. The written word changed the destiny of mankind and helped us to grow and learn and achieve more.
There are so many ways to improve yourself by reading. Reading is a skill and it gets easier with practice. Your mind is like any other part of your body. It performs better when it gets regular exercise. Whether you’re reading books on how to do specific tasks, reading biographies, reading fiction or whatever, reading is the vehicle that will take your mind to places you never would have known before. It can improve your life on so many levels. I was fortunate that my mother instilled a deep love for the written word in me at a very young age. I love reading to this day and I can’t thank my mother enough for that.
Reading is one of the greatest gifts that mankind has for one another. I read books on so many different subjects and genres. Unless I am searching for a particular author, I don’t pay attention to who wrote it. I read for the stories. Good stories are good stories, it doesn’t matter who wrote them. The best stories are the ones that move you, the reader, to new emotions and experiences. Those are the books that stay with you and you find yourself reading more than once. There are several authors who have affected me like that.
Open a book. If you like the story, read it. If you don’t, then put it down and find another one. There are millions of stories out there waiting for you. Millions of journeys out there waiting for you to go along with them. My suggestion, listen to the call and join them. Take the journey. Open the book and lose yourself in the pages. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
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