Something has been evolving for a while and I didn’t notice until just now. I’ve been writing stories ever since I first picked up a pen and I thought that I was heading towards one destination. I haven’t been going there. My road has been taking me close to that destination but not quite there. I thought my path was leading me towards being a writer, you know like some of my heroes… Like Conan Doyle or Tolkien or Kipling (without the overt imperialism.) And whilst yes, my path has made me into a writer of sorts (and that is a part of what I am,) that is not where things have been leading me. All this time that I thought I was working towards becoming a writer I’ve been wrong. I’ve been working towards becoming a storyteller instead…
And when you look at almost everything I have done it makes sense. It starts out with those early works I mention in the video, those ‘short paragraphs’ which probably weren’t very good anyway (or as good as a four year old could manage if you want to be optimistic) and with that origin it’s no wonder I thought I was becoming a writer. I was but I wasn’t… As on top of the early written works I once experimented with making series of brief animated films (Explained in a future video). Like the early works they weren’t very good (the best one involved Richard and Judy being replaced by Punch and Judy… And even then it wasn’t brilliant,) but like with those early books what I was doing was telling stories. They didn’t start off that way no (I didn’t think I could) but the last of those animated films was a whole twenty minutes long and it did indeed tell a story… sort of.
Then you have Past Force… My first radio show. But Past Force was again about telling stories, only this time it was the story of the past. It was never full on academic history (though it dabbled) and it never went into any serious analysis of the past but the nub of it was the story. Each show came with it’s own different story, a story ranging from Roman times right through until the present day (passing through Basingstoke along the way… Don’t ask.) And whilst I was at university I also dabbled in theatre. I helped tell two stories behind the scenes (as producer and stage manager) and I also helped craft a murder mystery whilst there. That was also where ‘Malvolio’ originates and several times I have contemplated trying my hand at some proper acting which is sort of like telling a story but in a very different way.
And Dark Legend… Let’s not forget my beautiful, brilliant, epic of heroes and mutants and love and war and life and death and how the death of one man can be more catastrophic than you yet realize… That didn’t start out as a book. It started out as a TV series, twelve episodes long (or eleven if you want to include the last one as double length which it might have been) and then it briefly morphed into a radio oratorio-style piece and then a radio drama before finally becoming a book series. And one day I’m sure it will evolve again, maybe back into a tv series or even a graphic novel (BTW, I actively encourage fan art and if you fancy doing some tweet them to me- @JPCrocks- and I’ll put the best ones in a little gallery at the top of the page, maybe in chronological order of when they happen in the books!)
Add to this my autobiography which, at it’s heart, is all about me telling the story of my life, a life which, it appears, has all been about telling stories. Almost everything I have done, everything I’ve worked towards, has been about telling stories. It’s easy to see why I would think that would lead me into being a writer, every story has to be written after all… But when I look at all that I’ve done, (even this website counts) I can see that it has been all been building to something more than making me just another writer, of which there may be thousands out there. I never thought I would say this but I am not a writer. I am a storyteller and that is a whole different thing, and much rarer.
Now some of you may be shouting at your screen right now. ‘What a pretentious wanker’ you’re saying, ‘What a little dick… A storyteller and a writer are the same thing.’ Well I’d argue against that. Yes, a storyteller and a writer may be similar but they are not the same thing. A writer is someone who writes something in one way (say in book form) and then moves on to something else. They do tell a story but only once and in one fixed way. Yes, some writers may do more than one thing (books and stageplays for instance) but that I think is rare and most writers limit themselves to just one or two mediums. That’s not a bad thing but the truth is a storyteller goes well beyond that. A (modern) storyteller tells many stories and sometimes the same story across many different mediums and in many different ways. They don’t just write the story down and move on to the next thing, they tell it and they spread it and they make the story come alive. That, it seems, is what I have become.
So where does this leave me now I’m not a writer? In no different place actually… It just means that more doors have opened out and I can go in directions that I might not have other have seen. I’ve had an idea to do a ‘Jackanory’ style thing on the Youtube channel (JPC Rocks, again) with some exclusive short stories- I wanted to do more with Greg from DL so they both centre on him, one concerning a trip down the sewers and the other involving an outbreak of Bramble Vag. And what about campfire stories… Everybody loves campfire stories. I could do a thing where I go around telling campfire style stories, exclusive stories nobody has heard before, like the bards of old. I know that writers sometimes do live readings but those are normally from existing or upcoming books and hardly ever exclusive. And I can tell all the books I’ve written in other ways. Rebels will finally be out in a few days (can I get a big hurrah? Or at least an ‘about fucking time?’) and in a few months, when I’m less sick of the thing, I can think about how I can tell that story in a different way. And Malvolio… Why not film Malvolio?
There are so many roads to take now… And yes, I write things… But I’m more than a writer. I’m a storyteller.