Storytelling’s Far from a Lost Art: More on Memoirs on the Go

“One thing that people ask me all the time is: ‘is storytelling dying?'” said Dale Jarvis, the Intangible Cultural Heritage development officer for Newfoundland, in a transcript of a podcast interview on

I know what Dale’s talking about. I constantly see articles lamenting “the lost (or dying) art of storytelling.” Maybe it’s because I am acutely tuned in to storytelling, but “lost” and “dying” are the last adjectives I would apply to storytelling.

Dale’s response:

I really believe that things are always in a constant state of evolution. I think traditions are always changing, and I think that the rise of things like YouTube indicate that people are really passionate about storytelling. They really want to share their own personal stories.

So, it is sort of a really great democratization of storytelling in a way. Maybe people don’t sit around and tell the long-form fairy tales in quite the same way that they used to, but people are incredibly interested in sharing their own personal stories and creating stories and sharing them.

Yes. On Friday, I talked about this phenomenon particularly with regard to blogging. In that entry, I quoted academician Cynthia Franklin: “I argue that blogs are serving as a kind of ‘memoir-on-the-go…”

Here are a few more examples of blogs that are “memoirs on the go” (suggested by Joel Kelly on Ingenioustries in an entry entitled The keys to a storytelling blog:

    • The Typing Makes Me Sound Busy, the blog of Jelisa “J-Money” Castrodale, “a freelance writer and stand-up comic who is fueled by an enamel-eroding Diet Coke habit and an insane love of music, both of which put her in the categories of ‘good at Jeopardy!’ and ‘annoying to have at parties.'” Kelly describes the blog like this: ” The story is Jelisa’s life. We know she’s kind of broke, loves running, and has had plenty of hilarious dating misadventures. And she’s trying to get more professional writing work. The content [comprises] her posts about what goes on in her life.”
    • Gaping Void, the blog of Hugh McLeod, a cartoonist who sells limited-edition prints, published a book in June (which as of today, Aug. 17, is No. 1 in Amazon’s “creativity” category. He is also CEO of Stormhoek USA, a small wine brand out of South Africa, which just launched in America. Kelly says: “The story is Hugh living in Alpine, Texas, doing some futile marketing and making awesome artwork after having been a traditional ad man for 10 years. The content [comprises] his cartoons and marketing insights (often the same thing).”
    • Vegan Dad, who describes his blog this way: “When you have kids, supper has to be on the table every night. And when you are a vegan, the drive-thru, the deli counter, and TV dinners/frozen convenience foods are not an option. So, you do the best you can. This blog is a record of what my family eats. It’s not always a totally complete meal, not always photogenic, and sometimes it’s leftovers. But, it is a realistic look at a vegan family in a northern Ontario city that is not always vegan-friendly.” Kelly: “Story — A, well, vegan dad who wants his family to be healthy and eat great food. He’s got a few boys and a brand new vegan daughter, and he wants to share the cool food he makes for them with other vegans. Content — Amazing recipes. They’re usually fairly simple because we know from the overall story that he’s a busy guy.”

Maximum Fun, of which Kelly say: “Story — Jesse Thorn, 28, is living his dream of hosting a public radio show (and podcasts), despite the odds (it doesn’t really make him much money). He struggles, he finds success, and you’re on the journey with him of living his dream. Content — The episodes and blog posts themselves. The things he creates and controls. Each episode of his show or podcasts are framed by the fact that he’s young, fairly broke, but having a huge amount of fun interviewing his heroes and hanging out with his friends.”