I’ve noticed how often it is that excellent authors may be pretty rotten live storytellers. To be a storyteller who is an orator, one must have the floor and also possess the talent of keeping it. More than just having a good story, they must become masters of gaining control of a room, avoiding hecklers, beating back those who rudely hog the oxygen of conversation in a relentless yearning for the spotlight. Like a great comedian, they must have a bit of a bully in them to claim control of their audience. Whereas an excellent writer may be the complete opposite. They may indeed be shy, reclusive, and hold bullies (even the slightest of them) as beneath their time.
After reading an excellent book of the modern era (not completely impossible) I’ve learned to take great care in stumbling upon video clips of the author being interviewed. Reading their book I have likely created a voice and cadence for them which in reality is utterly different from their true persona. Watching a great writer mutter and stumble through an impromptu question and answer session can destroy their written word for me if I’m not careful.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy comedians and storytellers, but I’m more and more convinced that the kinship between the writer and a storyteller may be very much like the relationship between a songwriter and a vocalist performer. Sure, there are times when a creative can be adequate at both skill sets; there can indeed be singer/songwriters or storyteller/authors, but I often wonder if those abilities for one side of the coin aren’t perhaps antithetical to the other. I wonder if the truly outlandishly gifted creatives in the end must decide which rabbit hole they will descend into and in so doing turn their back on the other.