Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Toilet Paper and Storytelling by Jane Myers Perrine

This is going to be a split-personality blog. The first section is something I found interesting in the June 22, 2009 issue of TIME magazine. The other comes from a recent program at a writers’ meeting.

First, from TIME magazine: "If every household in the U.S. replaced just ONE 500-sheet roll of virgin fiber toilet paper a year with a roll made from 100% recycled paper, nearly 425,000 trees would be saved annually." At the end of the article is this line: "Yes, recycled TP is not the world's softest, but. . .ask yourself whether it's really worth tapping an ancient forest to create the ultimate disposable product." (Page 97)

There are some paper items I cannot do without. Books head that list. However, using recycled napkins, paper towels and toilet paper is an easy ways to keep our forests IN the forest and to insure there’s still paper for all of our novels. When you consider that our ancestors used catalogs and that much of the world has no idea what toilet paper is, I bet we’re tough enough to do this.

Secondly, in our last writers’ meeting, we discussed the difference between a storyteller and a writer. A writer concentrates on words, putting together a book through language. A writer uses beautiful words and images that convey emotion and setting.

As you might guess, a storyteller tells a story. What happens to the characters, conveying their emotions, is most important to the storyteller, not the words used to tell it.

Both are wonderful. If storytellers also have a way with words and images, what terrific books they write. But, according to the women who gave this program, most authors are one or the other.

Which kind of author are you more likely to read? Can you think of—and share—examples of books you’ve enjoyed AND if you believe the author is a writer or a storyteller? I’d really be interested to know and will send a copy of one of my books to one of you if five or more readers are willing to share OR if you can guess my favorite storyteller. HINT: she’s writing novels now.


I.J. Parnham said...

My calculator tells me that you therefore get 500 toilet rolls out of a tree and the US clears about 600 square miles a year for those rolls. Assuming managed forests that means about 20,000 square miles of the planet has been given over to this requirement. Scary!

Anyhow, that's a nice distinction. I tend to prefer storytellers myself who dabble with writing a bit, but not so much that it gets in the way of the story.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

An amazing statistic, I.J. Thanks for adding it. We're using as many recycled paper products as we can.

And--you're entered in the drawing if more people reply!

Thanks for dropping by.


Debby Mayne said...

How interesting! I'll never think about toilet paper the same way.

I also found your distinction between good writers and good storytellers very intriguing. If I have to choose between a great story and wonderful writing, like I.J., story will win. I don't like getting bogged down in pretty words as much as immersing myself in what happens to the characters.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment, Debbie. Changing people's minds about toilet paper has become my crusade. I'm thinking about taking a bunch of rolls of recycled TP to meetings and handing them out.

And you're in the drawing--if a few more show up.


Carol Hutchens said...

Very interesting...we always used recycled paper in school...we survived...and I lived through a long career that I've never, until this moment, measured in recycled toilet paper. Boggles the mind.

I'll go with storytellers. Isn't the story the reason we read?

Thanks for the stimulating blog!!!

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Carol, thank you for the testimonial!

And so far we're 3-0 in favor of storytellers.


Sandy Cody said...

Though our household uses recycled products as much as possible, I confess I never realized by doing so, we were leaving more trees to be made into paper for books. It's obvious, but I just never made the connection. Thanks for pointing it out. I'll re-double my efforts!

I appreciate writers who use words beautifully, but beautiful words will hold my interest for only so long. For 300 (plus or minus) pages, I want a good, strong story.

Elisabeth Rose said...

I must admit I like good literary writing and a beatifully turned phrase. John Banville is a writer I admire. There's something poetic about good writing that conjures up images in unexpected and deeply touching ways.

Ideally a storyteller should have a touch of that. I can't read a badly written book no matter how good the story. eg The Da Vinci Code was generally acknowledged to be poorly written, style wise. I thought it was a real shocker and it took all my persistence to finish it. I wouldn't read another one by that author so I guess there's a line I draw.

John Grisham tells a good yarn and writes well, I think, as does Nelson De Mille.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Thanks, Sandy--you're way ahead of me on this. I've only lately gotten really careful about looking for GREEN products.


Jane Myers Perrine said...

Elisabeth, you brought up some very good comments and insights. I've read and enjoyed Grisham and my husband liked Nelson De Mille both of whom write great stories. I haven't read John Banville. Is he Australian? My my husband felt the same way about The DaVinci Code as you did.

Thanks for adding to the discuss. And that's FIVE messages so tomorrow--just in xcase someone writes in tonight--I chose a winner of a book and announce it here.

Elisabeth Rose said...

John Banville is Irish. I remembered Edna O'Brien afterwards. too. I love her writing.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

And the winner is DEBBY MAYNE! Thank you for commenting. Please leave your address at Jane@JaneMyersPerrine.com
and tell me if you prefer historical or contemporary. I'll get your book in the mail.

AND my favorite storyteller is Daian Gabaldon.

Sierra Donovan said...

Jane, I'm late, but I'll weigh in too. I think storytelling trumps style, as long as the writing isn't so awkward as to be distracting. A lot of writers with "just serviceable" prose have a real ability to pull readers in ... 'course, "serviceable" isn't as easy as it sounds either!

Good writing style, however, can add a huge amount of enjoyment. Some authors are just music to my ears, and I curl my toes as I read them, letting the whole experience envelope me.