I recently watched an excellent movie called Neverwas, starring Aaron Eckhart, Ian McKellen, and Brittany Murphy. In the movie, Eckhart’s character was a psychiatrist who returned to his hometown to work at the institution where his father, a children’s book author, had lived for many years. As Eckhart meets the other patients in the institution, he comes across a man (McKellen) who believes he is the king of Neverwas and also thinks that Eckhart’s character is there to save him from “the dungeon” and help him return to his kingdom. Of course, Eckhart’s character thinks McKellen’s is completely crazy, but you later learn that McKellen may not be as crazy as you think. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Here’s the link to the IMBD page.
The movie inspired my post today because, throughout the film, there is much discussion about one man’s mental illness/fantasy being another man’s novel. The movie also brought up some interesting points about how sometimes a storyteller doesn’t find the story—it finds the storyteller. As writers, we are often asked, “So, tell me, how did you come up with that story?” It could’ve come to you in a dream, on a train (like it did for JK Rowling), or an entirely different way. I’m not sure it really matters how you found the story as much as it matters whether you tell it once you’ve found one another. Stories are meant to be told and shared. And I think that each story we tell (and hear) becomes a part of us and stays with us for life.
Everything and everyone has a story, whether you realize it or not. For example, there’s an oak tree I know that was around during the Civil War. I can’t even imagine the battles it saw, the pioneers that rode their way over the land in covered wagons, and all the other changes it’s seen. Or the man who was born in the early1900s and has seen cars and electricity become mainstream, lived through two world wars, seen the US put a man on the moon, witnessed the invention of the Internet and all that goes with it, and so on. What incredible stories they have!
I guess my point is to always keep your eyes and ears open. You never know when your next story will find you.