ONE LIKE, TWO LIKES, THREE LIKES…FOR?
Once upon a time, those four words were the beginning of a story. You knew if you were reading something that began with those words, then you were about to go on an adventure. It was cut and dry. Simple. “Once upon a time” then “The End.” Done. Next story.
Then the world evolved, and storytelling became broader, harder, more serious, more soulful and more. Stories no longer depended on happy endings or victorious moments. Some stories are truthful, even when the truth hurts. There is a need to tell stories no one has had the courage to. Everyday, the narrative of storytelling changes.
But how do we absorb all of that? How do we know we are doing well? Enough?
I struggle penning this article like I do with most of them, but we all know by now that I end up penning it eventually. It’s part of the curse of being a storyteller. It’ll all come to you eventually, when it is ready.
“The perfect story hasn’t been told yet”; the words of Creative Agency Creative Director Auryn Hiscock keep playing in my head. I wonder if he has mentioned the “yet” to deliberately tell the millennial to pull up their socks and get to work, or if he knows there is a huge storytelling apocalypse we need to prepare for. Auryn is a respected writer and storyteller in the game. One of those people you have to closely listen to for wisdom because he knows the game. He has seen it evolve before his eyes.
“I don’t even know what that term means. I mean, yeah, I’m a storyteller and I’m a millennial, but I don’t like to conform to the prefix” one of the most admired young authors and journalists, Rofhiwa Maneta answers when I ask if he considers himself a “Millennial Storyteller”. I can’t help but laugh a little as Rofhiwa answers this, because the world refers to millennials as the most labelling generation, yet he doesn’t want to be labelled. But that’s a story for another day.
Rofhiwa’s brother’s name is Mpho. No, wait…Rofhiwa and Mpho are twins. I know, the story just got a tad bit interesting. Here are two people who tell a visual story every time. Ever since the day their parents found out about them.
Mpho answers the same question by saying “I don’t think such a thing exists. The principle and structure of storytelling remains no matter what millennium, century or year. It is the same structure. Beginning, Middle and End” Mpho is a sub-editor for a newspaper by day and a music producer and writer every other time.
My three interviewees were chosen on the basis that what they have to offer to the storytelling world is different. Not only is it different from each other, but also the industry as a whole. Auryn spends his work days going through advertising briefs to bring to life concepts and ideas to tell the beautiful story of a feeling, a product or a service gives you. Rofhiwa investigates and has to provide evidential written stories of everyday surroundings and events. Then Mpho has to ensure the truth is as truthful as it was delivered, with an added tone of soundtrack here and there to evoke emotion and awaken something in someone. Storytellers. In my age. That I am exposed to.
I spend most of my days doing the similar thing to each of my three interviewees, but somehow worry that the storytelling industry is facing doomsday.
“Are there any more stories to tell? I mean everything has been reduced to an Instagram post or YouTube series. Are those still stories or just fluff used to keep people busy?” I ask my studies individually, on separate occasions (You will know why this point is important just now)
“Absolutely.”; Auryn without flinching answers. “There are always stories to tell. There are also ones to retell. The old ones. The pace might change. Again, the perfect story hasn’t been told yet.”; he continues.
“There are plenty. What’s wrong with an Instagram post or YouTube series? For me, it’s just like, people have to adapt to the times” is Rofhiwa’s answer.
Mpho sums it up and confirms that no matter how different storytellers may seem or think they seem, they are not. His answer is “Definitely. There’ll always be stories to tell. Storytellers give different perspective on stories all the time. Whether you are familiar with the story or not”
As I struggle with the conclusion of my article, I realise that storytellers are gifted. They have an art. You simply cannot make that up. And on top of having this gift that is sometimes a curse, you are also expected to adapt and move with the times. Yesterday it was a “Once upon a time”, today it’s “Pull up a chair, let me tell you some”. All of that. Stories. Unfolding.
I realise that storytellers are listeners. They absorb and listen before they can put pen to paper. Their research sees them in some of the most sacred places, doing some stage but fulfilling things. They are used to moments like that. That is why, even in today’s loud, hasty, very complicated digital world, they still stay true to telling their stories.
On advice for the “millennial storyteller”, Auryn sums it up by saying that storytellers need to remember that it takes time to tell good stories. There is a level of patience needed. Finding your voice. You can share the same views, but not the same voice. You are shaped by your own experiences. You can be relevant and unique. Storytelling gives you the privilege to be able to tell your stories in your voice.
On which books to read, Auryn advises advertisers to not read books for advertising tips, but watch adverts. “You should look at good advertising to be a good advertiser”
Continue telling the story you believe in and finding your voice. Use the digital era as your gateway and tool to make your voice heard. I’m off to write another upcoming article. After all, I am a storyteller.
Peace, Love And Unicorn Glitter.