Sometimes I Forget…..

Sometimes I Forget…..
Storytelling is work

Being a working storyteller is a pretty intense job at times.

Right now the booking season is in full swing and schools, libraries, conferences and other types of performance and workshop venues are calling for dates and shows.

In my brain this translates to the work of storytelling. There are lots of things to remember –

That means….

Putting sets together for various audiences,
Learning new stories
Crafting workshops

Crafting ghost stories

Trying to decide whether I want to apply to fringe shows

Then there are the logistics…..

Where am I going?
What parts of the country am I going to be in and when?
What are the age and make ups of the audiences?
How many plane rides?
Can I drive?
How long do I have to get from place to place?

There are also the social obligations…

Who do I get to see?
Can we get shows in Northern Va around my sister’s birthday?How long can I stop at my brother’s on the way to Chicago?
Will I have time to have dinner with my friends?
Do I have a day off in Arizona?
Seeing my new sisters all over the country from Florida (Hi, Carrie Sue) To Georgia. (Hi, Carmen) to California (Hi, Diane)

The Travel –

Telling for the Haves and the Homeless in America

Torrential rains
Long haul driving
Twenty hours in airports
Missed a connection
45,000 miles a year on the car
Tiny, fragile looking prop planes
Renting Cars

Let’s not forget the self care….

Self Care

Lozenges –
My heating pad –
Netflix….there are days I really need Netflix!
A sleep mask –
Planet Fitness – (sigh)
Ear plugs –
Bath salts-
Comfy house shoes-
Chocolate –

Missing things because of being on the road

Watched the recording of the recital
Watched the recording of my son getting that award
Watched my nephew play that game on Facebook
Called my daughter after her dad moved her into the dorm
Happy Valentines, Birthday, Anniversary from across the country!
Wish I could have been there

Encountering people…

Seeing other storytellers! That’s fun.
Lunches with new storytellers.
Asking for critical feedback
Offering critical feedback
Elbows ( I touch elbows with people instead of shaking hands. Cuts down on sharing germs)
Seeing old contacts and making new contacts
Having children stare at me to see if I’m real after watching me perform

The Research –

Sometimes all we have are stories

Encountering new stories and trying to figure out where they come from so I can tell them
Reading about new language studies and seeing if they break new ground
Encountering interesting articles about brain development and the arts
Reading new story collections
Getting recommendations from people all over the country
Learning new things about history
Learning new things about my art form
Practicing new material and getting advice



Getting Paid –

Pricing a show

Who has the check?
Did I forget the check?
Are they mailing the check?
How much are they paying me?
Do I need to send an invoice? Did I know that?
Oops! They forgot the check?
Didn’t we already send you a check?
You want us to pay you how much?

So, what have I forgotten?

I forget that this is an art form that transcends the business of doing it.

I’ve been a performer for thirty one years.

I was at a folk festival this weekend in Greensboro, NC.

It is here I encounter the thing I know about performing that I don’t ever focus on….how it touches people’s lives. I love it when I get to see it in real time

I am ready for the person who says, “Wow! I never saw anything like that! That was cool!”

I am ready for the person who says, “That was a great show!”

I am ready for the person who says, “I loved that story!”

I am ready for the person who says, “My grandma used to tell that story. I felt like a kid again!”

The thing that always gets me? The thing I forget? The thing I am not prepared for when it appears?

Holding a woman’s hand as she stares at me with tears on her cheeks telling me that her kids are grown and they still talk about my work. Telling me that I was an important part of their childhood and a very important part of her life. She is clearly overwhelmed with seeing me and holding my hand.

When I encounter these things I am humbled. I am joyful. I am honored.

My first thought? I wish I had something to offer her. I wish I had something to give her worthy of what she is giving me at that momnet. I wish I could feel like the person she is describing. I wish I could honor how much she loves these stories.

All I can do is thank her, hold her hand, and smile and nod. I tell her she has given me a gift, which she has, and my heart is full.

She wipes an eye and says, “I just wanted you to know.”
I thank her. I hope I see her again.

She looks around, notices there are others waiting to say something. I wish I had more to give her other than my trite little thank you, and whatever else I just said. She moves away. Another child, a parent, a grandparent rushes in to say something.

I shake hands (or do elbows during flu season) and smile. Excited parents tell me their children heard my voice and started running towards it. They’d never seen them that excited about a “speaker”.  They can’t wait to go online and see more stories.

I smile. I say polite and pleasant things.

Storytelling, stories, the art, the joy of the art, the power of it…It is enormous. It is so much bigger than I am.

Sometimes I forget that I stand in the shadows of what is so universal and deep inside of each of us that it moves people. It dwarfs me and extends out beyond anything I can see or do.

I leave the venue and  go back to the work. I return to the business of storytelling.

Failing and trying again

I lose myself in preparing the work. I love sharing the work. I enjoy playing with an audience.

I move on to the next thing.

The story behind this picture is wonderful

Sometimes, I forget what I leave behind…
What remains after I am gone is the reason for doing this at all.

Happy Telling.