Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eclectic Author

May 13, 2009 began a three-day journey across the NC Mountains toward the Great Plains destination of Wall, South Dakota to visit my mother-in-law. I was pleased to find SD sprinkled with rolling green hills, spreading ranches with grazing cattle, and occasionally a wild animal or two. This state is sparsely populated with approximately 800,000 people. I’m pleased to say these fine folks were genuine and sincere as they welcomed travelers into their communities and towns. It was a wonderful place to be to get away from the crazy rat race back home and to find stories.

This blog will include one of the stories I gathered, so here goes.

My husband Jim, and I, accompanied by his mother, drove to a small town just 35 miles away from her home for lunch. While there I met a very interesting lady whom I shall call Donna.

Donna was very surprised and intrigued when I told her I was a freelance storyteller. Then she proceeded to tell me that she wrote a weekly article for her hometown newspaper. After listening to her conversation for a few minutes I realized that she too was a storyteller.

She told me about an eclectic author and storyteller that she knows who lives in Pennsylvania. It seems their way of crossing paths was quite extraordinary. Some years ago a book was written about Donna’s grandmother called Pioneer Woman, but unfortunately the book is out of print. The author is the lady from Pennsylvania. Each year she goes on an annual trek to help on an archaeological dig in southwestern South Dakota. While there she always tells the story of Donna’s grandmother, Pioneer Woman.

Donna told me that her family met this remarkable author/storyteller some years ago and got to know her. “Since that time we have grown very close to her.” I sensed that Donna regarded her as a member of her very own family. Donna saw her at last year’s ‘dig’ (Mammoth Hot Springs) and remarked, “We’ve been corresponding but I haven’t heard from her recently and I’m getting very concerned because she’s 88 years old. I’m going to see if I can get in touch with her by phone. I am so afraid that she won’t be able to come this year.

I didn’t get Donna’s email address so I don’t know if she has heard from her eclectic friend or not. But I returned home thinking, “Wow, what a wonderful story!” And I just happened to fall into it. So I urge you to keep your eyes and ears open and aware: stories are all around us.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

For the Love of Story

Most storytellers that I know personally share their love of stories by sharing from their heart. Most of the storytellers I have met through the years shared their stories from the heart. Along the way I met a few who didn’t quite get it. Those few won’t go far. The audience can sense it when the teller isn’t reaching out to them – to meet them halfway.

When I share a story, it must come from somewhere within me, not just from the brain. It comes from deep down inside my heart and soul. If I select a folktale to share with my audience, I must search long and hard to find the right story that will touch me. If it doesn’t reach out to grab me, I certainly cannot share it with my audience because it isn’t a part of me. It isn’t a part of my heart and soul.

Recently I presented an Oral History program at the NC Outer Banks with a great group of eager listeners in the audience. It was a fun experience for all. By the way, it was an adult audience and I love opportunities to work with adults. Grownups become “children at heart” again when they are taken back in time with stories and memories. As a former children’s librarian I have presented programs to all age levels.

Next month I will be traveling near the Outer Banks to present several more programs. This time I will have the opportunity to speak to another adult audience as well as visit several groups of students. So my time is filling up with fine-tuning my upcoming programs to fit the right audience. It is very important for any public speaker or storyteller to know his or her audience.