Gíday. Iím Jack, and I come from a land down under. In case youíve never heard that particular Men At Work song, it means Iím from Australia. Iím a few weeks shy of turning 60 and for the past 50 years Iíve been working as a drover/stockman. That means Iíve been herding mobs of cattle and sheep all over the countryside since I was 10, eating bull-dust and blowflies as we went our merry way. In fact, Iíve probably spent more time with a horse between my legs than Iíve spent on my own two feet.
The one good thing about my name is that it comes with its own built in nickname. Out back of Bourke, beyond the black stump, and up and down the long paddocks of the east coast, Iím known as Albany Jack, spinner of yarns and teller of tall tales. Some of which might perhaps even be a little bit true Ė or not.
While I might be a dab hand at making up stories on the spot around a camp fire, under a night sky and the Southern Cross, there is a big difference between spinning a yarn and writing a story. Thatís why Iím here. To learn how to translate an oral tradition of storytelling into dramatic prose. All help will be appreciated.
Any questions you want to ask, ask away. Oh, and a big koo-wee to Grumpy old guy. Heíll know what I mean
Teller of yarns and tall tales, huh? Folklore categories. Folkloristics is a proficiency area of mine -- the performance, collection, categorization, evaluation, accession, and publication of folk culture property, artifacts, rituals, customs, and traditions.
From performer to collector to publisher is, indeed, several different hats. Ms. Dalton Woodbury's suggestion to audio record the yarns and tales is sage guidance. One hat at a time is a best practice, especially when the performer is also the audience, collector, and publication packager.
Folklore recordation often is best done with the usual audience present, the usual audience of the performance, and in the usual performance space, so that as few variables as practical differ from the regular performance. Plus, that those details described add to a folk narrative's appeal and vivid richness of presentation.
Traditional folk tale criteria differ from prose designed to suit present-day, mass culture audience expectations. Both together, though, can be tamed. Our host Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker sagas do so quite artfully and dramatically within both categories' criteria. Many other examples come to mind, some novels, some short prose, some short story collections, some nested examples within those, and some long and short creative nonfiction personal essays, and nested parts within those, too.
The core of folkloristics is analysis of what any given item expresses about shared human life, expressly, social beliefs, values, and morals and their social functions. Folk tales, whether fable, fairy tale, yarn, or tall tale, in particular express moral truths -- also the real social function of prose. Thus the wisdoms of the ages are passed on to succeedor generations, and, unfortunately, the errors and follies of ancestors.
Look forward to Albany Jack fragments posted for consideration and comment. Welcome to the Hatrack writers' community.