An aspiring author confronts the literary demons of the world and sets off in search of an agent.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Time Before Stories

Where do stories come from? This question led me to write the following short, short story.

The Time Before Stories

A long, long time ago there were no stories to tell and no books to read. It was an age we now call, The Time Before Stories.

In those dreary times, children tossed and turned, struggling to fall asleep, their restlessness fueled by some nameless desire, unspoken yet uncomplicated, whose name was simply the title of a bedtime story waiting to be imagined. The question, ‘Child, what did you dream about last night?’ was never asked for there were no dreams worth remembering. How could there be in a world without fairy tales?

Untold were the legends of courageous men and women going off to fight the good fight. Unread were the fables by which life’s lessons are learned. Young people did not stay up late to read of dragon versus dragon slayer and nary a myth was whispered about the ancient gods.

In The Time Before Stories, there were no Alices tumbling down the rabbit hole to explore Wonderland; no Peter Pans refusing to grow up in a place called Neverland; no Winnie the Poohs hunting the Heffalump; no Hobbits, be it Bilbo or Frodo or otherwise, undertaking perilous journeys to places such as Mt. Doom; and no young wizards, with or without lightning bolt scars, standing strong against the purveyors of dark magic.

The world sorely lacked for imagination.

However, all that changed with the arrival of a man known as Fabula, whose name means story in Latin and from which comes the English word, fable. He was neither wizard nor sorcerer; magician nor conjurer; enchanter nor warlock: he was a thaumaturge or ‘one who works miracles.” 

It was Fabula who planted the seeds of the Tree of Tales, thereby giving us the miracle of stories. From where these seeds came, or how the thaumaturge found them, is not known – he told no one. Throughout the ages, rumors and theories have abounded – even today, it remains one of the great ironies that the story behind the Tree of Tales has yet to be told.

Though we do not know the origins of the seeds, we do know their discovery required a journey lasting ten years. During that time, Fabula met with and spoke to countless individuals, many who were interesting and a few who were extraordinary, but only five were blessed with an eloquence, empathy and wisdom beyond any of their kin. They were: Octavia, the Silver Fairy of the Northlands; Accipiter, the Red-Chested Hawk of West Africa; Damh, the White Stag of Rhydenfyre; Otarian, The Elfish Lord of Cryptomeria; and Omorose, The Beautiful Child of the Nile.

Fabula returned home with his acolytes, who called themselves the Fab Five, to plant the Tree of Tales. Just one year later, the tree’s silvery white buds burst open to unleash creativity upon the world and, much like its blossoms, characters and storylines started unfolding in the imaginations of Octavia, Accipiter, Damh, Otarian and Omorose. There, beneath the canopy of that glorious tree, the Fab Five labored, creating the craft of stories. Word of the miracle spread and in just a few years’ time, storytellers and authors could be found in every corner of the world. Scores of individuals flocked to the Tree of Tales, drawn by the sweet scent of imagination, and around the tree a village grew – the one we now know as Storyhaven.


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