Saturday, 21 July 2012

The greatest story ever told

Okay, I have to admit it. My little experiment failed. My attempt to trick people into thinking I was grumpy when really I was cheerful didn't fool anyone. I guess all you people out in bloggerland are much cleverer than even I anticipated.

So, given the foolhardiness of trying to do something tricksy again, I'm just going to be upfront and say it. This is going to be another one of my not-grumpy posts. And if that means you people aren't going to read it, then I guess I'll have to live with that, and hang on until I can be properly grumpy again.

Mind you, I could be just a little bit grumpy today. I'll try to explain. As a writer, I like to set my ambitions high. I like to try and write the greatest story I could possibly write. Hell, no, I want to do better than that. I want to write the greatest story ever written. Only problem is, it's already been done. By a Danish writer, back in 1837.

The writer is Hans Christian Andersen, and the story is The Emperor's New Clothes

I love that story. It says so much about people and behaviour and society and all that heavy stuff, in such a clean and simple and playful way. Often, when I listen to people speaking, I think of that story. Whether it's a politician trying to pull the wool over our eyes, or some economics expert trying to confound us with jargonistic gobbledygook, or any other "specialist" who wants us to believe they are somehow privy to knowledge beyond the understanding of us simple folk, I'll think of those two clever tailors attempting to convince the Emperor that they are making him a suit out of nothing. And I'll smile.

Even though I can now never write the greatest story ever, I can still take inspiration from this story. I want to be like the little boy who calls out, "He's not wearing any clothes." I try to write stories that are just as fun and simple and playful, but which hopefully will make people see things as they are.

I'm not sure I always manage to do it. After all, we're all going to have a different idea of how things are. But I can sure as hell have fun trying, and that's the best bit of all.


  1. I always thought that was one about Jesus. Or so MGM would have had us believe. But ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ is a pretty good one too. I notice it online all the time especially when it comes to poetry. Everyone is afraid to criticise poetry because no one is sure what constitutes a good poem any more. No one can even agree on a definition for poetry any more. I saw a video online a while ago—tried to find it again but can’t—in which some eighty famous poets tried to explain what poetry is. Some definitions were laughable. The end result was that not one of these great writers could find the right handful of words to say what it is. And that’s sad. If you cannot say what a poem is how can you tell when one’s not?

    1. Hi Jim,

      I wouldn't know about that MGM film...

      To be honest I'm not so sure about poetry either. I tend to like things that rhyme. Funnily enough, I just had a poem accepted into an online magazine so go figure.

  2. i love the way you did the site and t he info you hae on he site and would love to read sme of the ooks

    1. Hi Desi,

      Thanks for your comment and kind feedback. Hope you enjoy the books.

  3. Great post Jonathan.

    We should all aspire to write the greatest story ever written even though it will likely be out of our reach.

    I don't expect to write the greatest novel ever. Readers have such a wide range of tastes it would be nigh on impossible to agree on what is the best novel of all.

    What I can do is aim to write the best novel I'm capable of and with the next one try to be even better than before. I do think writers get better the more they write.

    1. Hi Dave,

      I agree totally with those sentiments.

      Mind you, at the moment I'm happy to get any story finished, regardless of how good it might be.