"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Friday, December 15, 2006

Stage Fever: How to Make a Portable Backdrop

The stage beckons many of us storytellers and often we wish we could always count on having a stage. How often have we performed with a busy background and the performance suffered for it?

One way to create a focal point for the audience is for the storyteller to make a portable backdrop.

Inspiration came from Professional Storyteller Dianne de Las Casas in her book "The Story Biz Handbook, How to Manage Your Storytelling Career from the Desk to the Stage".

Dianne uses a 7' X 8' backdrop from PVC pipes and fabric. I emailed Dianne and she responded, "I have different backdrops for different shows. Some are made of a felt-like material, some are hand-sewn or fused with appliques and others are handpainted on muslin. . .. I love my backdrops. They add such pizzazz to my show and really make me stand out in a crowd."

There are many ways to make a portable backdrop so I will share what has worked for me-- two 6'X6' panels that connect together in a 90 degree angle.

Items You Need:
  • 24 PVC pipes of 3' length, 3/4" diameter
  • 2 "X" connectors, 8 "T" connectors, 8 "L" connectors to fit 3/4" diameter (see picture)



  • 10 yards (1 bolt) of fleece/fabric
  • 4 strips of 2 1/2' of Velcro with sticky-back--stiff side only
  • 4 strips of 2 1/2' of Velcro WITHOUT sticky-back--fuzzy side only
  • Package of premium ties made of plastic and stainless steel locks (12" length or more)
  • Travel golf bag to store items
Tools You Need:
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine, Thread, Pins
  • Measuring Tape
Recommendations/Warnings:
1. Go to a place like Sprinkler World or Home Depot to get the PVC pipes. Have the place cut the long pipes into 3' segments for it will save you money and time. Then pick up the "X", "T", and "L" connectors to fit the 3/4" diameter.

2. When buying the Velcro, make sure you grab the sticky-backed kind as well as the kind without the sticky-back. The Velcro must be sewn to the fabric and the stickiness can ruin many needles and possibly the sewing machine. Yet, the stickiness is great for the pipes.

3. Depending on the kind of fabric you choose for the backdrop, the fabric could be expensive. Normally, fleece is $6.99/yard and 10 yards of fabric is needed. I bought my fleece at $1.99/yard and the Velcro during Black Friday and it cost me $18.88.

4. A travel golf bag is ideal to carry the backdrop due to the many handles, straps, and wheels on it. I found mine at Wal-Mart for $29.97.

Directions:
1. Take the 10 yards of fabric and cut off a 1-foot section. Lay the 1-foot section aside. Go to a wide hallway or spacious room and fold the 9 yards and 2 feet in half. Making sure there are no wrinkles and that ends meet, fold the fabric in half a second time. This will give you four sections of the same size.

2. Cut both ends of the folded fabric. Then take two of the same-sized pieces. Line them up together the long way. Pin these ends together and prepare to do a straight stitch to seam these ends through the sewing machine. Each 6’X6’ panel will have a vertical seam in the middle for a vertical seam has a more professional look than a horizontal seam.

3. Repeat step #2 for the last two same-sized pieces.

4. Notice that there is a stiff and a fuzzy side to the Velcro. Take the sticky-backed fuzzy side of the Velcro and center it along one PVC pipe. Repeat the process for three other PVC pipes.

5. Open up one of the fabric panels with the seam facing up. At the top of the fabric and three inches away from the left side of the seam, place the Velcro one inch from the top and perpendicular to the seam. Pin the Velcro down so as to sew a straight stitch through the Velcro and into the fabric. Then, have a mirror image with the Velcro three inches away from the right side of the seam. Pin Velcro and sew to fabric.

6. Repeat step #5 on the second fabric panel.

7. Take the 1-foot section of fabric and cut six 1-inch by 1-yard pieces. I prefer to use fleece because the ends do not unravel like other fabrics.

How to Set-Up the Portable Backdrop:
1. Lay one of the fabric panels on the ground with the seam and Velcro facing up. The Velcro on the fabric indicates the top of the panel. Taking your shoes off, walk to the center of the fabric and place the “X” connector. Place a pipe in each one of the ends of the “X” connector. Now take four “T” connectors and place one on each of the open ends. Make sure that two Velcro-covered pipes are also used for the top to match the Velcro on the fabric. Use four “L” connectors for the corners. Connect the pipes and connectors until it looks like the picture.

2. Fold the Velcro on the fabric so to stick to the Velcro on the two pipes. Go to the bottom of the panel and fold the remaining fabric towards the center. Next, fold the extra material on the left side towards the center. Finally, fold the extra material on the right side towards the center. Near the top and the center I have cut a 1” long slit on the right side of one fabric panel (about 3” in). I also have cut a 1” slit on the left side of the second fabric panel (about 3” in). The two sides without the slits will be the edges that will be the center of the portable backdrop. For both of the fabric panels at the bottom, I cut two 1” slits on either side of the seam. All the slits are places for the fabric strips to enter in order to secure the fabric better to the pipes. Tie fabric strips to pipes
through the slits as shown in the pictures.

3. Repeat steps #1-2 for the second panel.

4. Have another person hold vertical one panel while you hold the other panel so that you create a 90-degree angle. Take three plastic ties and tighten the two pipes together at the top, center, and bottom. The portable backdrop should now be freestanding.

With your portable backdrop, you will always have a stage to bring you into the spotlight.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
info@rachelhedman.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com
http://www.yesalliance.com

Monday, November 20, 2006

Storytelling Super-Market: 3 Ways to Draw People


Storytellers can gain more than food and coupons while at the supermarket. As shared by Johnny Uy, the Toastmasters International President, a supermarket provides a structure to create more loyalty to individuals and organizations.

Storytellers are constantly recruiting people to the art, much like a supermarket welcomes customers into the doors.

I will never grocery shop the same way as three questions will linger from Johnny Uy’s workshop “Super-Marketing Toastmasters” as part of the Fall 2006 District 15 Conference for Toastmasters International on November 11th. (See picture of Johnny Uy, his wife Irene, and I.)

Three Questions to Apply to Yourself and/or Organization:

  1. Why do you walk in a particular supermarket?
  2. What makes the customers happy so as to continue going to your supermarket?
  3. How does the store stay competitive by meeting the needs of the customers?

Why do you walk in a particular supermarket?
Ask yourself why people go to your storytelling performances. Ask why people attend your storytelling guild/organization. Ask why people go to you.

Advertise
Who has not received coupons from a supermarket every week, if not every day? We cannot expect everyone to happily stumble upon our performance, guild, or organization. Beyond fliers, grocery chains usually have a community board to place posters.

Johnny shared how back issues of the Toastmasters magazine can be placed in strategic places of where people wait. Offices of doctors, dentists, and car mechanics may welcome the “Storytelling Magazine” or other storytelling publications. Upon placement, Johnny urged that the contact info be attractive and in a prominent place. Otherwise it would be like dangling a carrot and no way to get more carrots.

Part of Nationwide Chain
For over 82 years, Toastmasters continues its tradition of communication and leadership training. This organization consistently grows year by year, with now more than 211,000 members, due to how it uses its credibility.

How long has storytelling been around? We could say storytelling was around as soon as humans could speak. In regards to organizations, we have the National Storytelling Network, the International Storytelling Foundation, Utah Storytelling Guild, etc. Let us be proud of our heritage.

How about you as an individual storyteller? I am now on my 13th year as a storyteller as my path started as a high school sophomore. Remember that you have your own history—whether it started today or over half a century ago.

There can always be fallout of membership/attendees. When Toastmasters loses a member, they conduct an exit survey. Johnny said that 100% of exiting members left happy and satisfied, meeting their goals. This respect will promote Toastmasters, even when the member is not active.

With the respect as a performer or as a group, publicize major activities. The National Storytelling Network asks for location submissions of Tellabration!, a world-wide event of storytelling over the course of a weekend. Take advantage of such service.

Happens to be Convenient/Meets Immediate Need
How close is the grocery store at which you shop? Most likely, people want to attend performances, guilds, and organizations within certain areas. Make it easy for people to find where you will be for meetings and concerts.

As for immediate need, perhaps you know someone who will give a major presentation. Johnny suggested approaching graduate students who must defend dissertations. Storytelling is a communication skill and you may be able to draw people to your meetings with that thought.

What makes the customers happy so as to continue going to your supermarket?
So you entered the doors of the supermarket. Who is to say you will continue shopping there?

Customers Greeted/Personnel Treat Customers with Courtesy
Some places have an official greeter so that customers feel welcomed. Do you welcome people as they attend your concert? I have always believed in “Go early, stay late.” Do you welcome people as they attend your guild/organization? Even if someone sits in a corner on their own accord, do not let them go home friendless.

Personnel Help Find Needs/Advise on Products
Johnny says that in Toastmasters there is supposed to be a coach/mentor assigned for every new member. What if storytellers applied the same principle? If someone is new to the art of storytelling, some kind of orientation outside of the guild meeting with the mentor could build loyalty in no time.

Johnny adds that it should be checked to see if the coach/mentor is actually doing the job. Simply appointing two people together does not guarantee progress.

Maintains Database of Customers
Some grocery stores keep databases so as to send specific coupons to customers. What are the types of “coupons” you give?

Storytellers may have databases for different reasons. I keep emails of storytellers and story appreciators so I can send a listing of Utah storytelling events open to the public as well as to let them know about my latest blog entry.

Storytelling guilds/organizations should have an updated list of their members and keep in touch with them. Show the members that you know that they exist.

If someone was absent at the last meeting, do leaders find out why the member was missing? Missing one meeting can lead to two meetings, which makes it easier to miss three times and so on. Have your members feel important. Attendance will surge.

Complete Line of Products/Food (so don’t go elsewhere)
Toastmasters offer varied, stimulating and complete educational programs to help their members develop communication and leadership skills. Can you say the same thing?

Professional storytellers tend to do more than mere entertainment when performing. Many tellers prefer to have their audience inspired or influenced in some way. When at a guild meeting, there must also be growth like in leadership skills of members and topics that are of interest.

Johnny emphasized that a gathering is complete when there is fun. He suggested that themed meetings, like holding a Halloween one at the cemetery, could bring excitement. There are times to be serious, though rarely at a guild meeting. This is a time to share stories and ideas that can build each other beyond business and into friendships.

Aggressive Pricing
Toastmasters have 2-for-1 offers in that new members receive two manuals to guide them in communication and leadership skills. The manuals alone would make the monthly dues of minimal consequence.

As Co-Chair of the Youth, Educators, and Storyteller Alliance, I look for ways to keep the members happy. We have a website with our online database so members can network. Recently, members received a beautiful YES! pin and pen. They have discounts for Pre-Conference. I expect our list of benefits to increase in time.

How does the store stay competitive by meeting the needs of the customers?
People have unending choices on how and where they spend their time. Always be grateful to those to come to your performance, guild, or organization no matter how large or small.

Survey Other Supermarkets
Visit other performing artist concerts, clubs, and organizations. You can always get ideas from them of what ways build success. Though I am not a member of Toastmasters, I learned from their Conference. I respect Toastmasters to such degree that I would recommend their organization to anyone.

Johnny was asked how many organizations in which he was a member. He smiled and said he belonged only to Toastmasters though he “visits” many other groups. Then Johnny said that he invited other organizations to his organization so he can get their feedback. An outsider’s perspective could notice things to which long-time members are oblivious. Even better, there can be speaker exchanges. Wouldn’t a Toastmaster be a great speaker for a storytelling guild and vice versa?

Joint Promotions with Supermarkets
Though Toastmasters is a strong organization, they enjoy combining efforts in shared causes with other groups such as the Kiwanis. This can promote camaraderie and goodwill with other clubs. There can even be joint meetings or joint induction ceremonies.

When I was president of the Brigham Young University Storytelling Club, we joined performances with “cousin clubs” such as Y Juggle to put on the event “Once Upon a Juggler.” It became a tradition that all enjoyed.

Maintains Cleanliness of Store
Where are you holding your performances or meetings? Johnny says that the room may not be a place filled with cockroaches, though there are others ways for an environment to be wholesome. For example, a person should feel safe when attending. Avoid negative comments and gossip and focus on what is positive about the event/meeting.

Employees Given Sales/Productivity Quotas
Be prepared with a status report on attendance or membership and give an official acknowledgment of numbers at least once a year.

Toastmasters love contests to drive membership. There may be prizes involved though Johnny admits that the bragging rights are most valuable. He recommends that the contests be measurable and will somehow achieve goals of the members. Having a partner for the contest promotes results.

You can brainstorm ways on how you may have contests in connection with your event, guild, or organization.

Efficient Customer Response (ECR), Getting what the Customer Needs at the Time the Customer Needs it
I notice that some grocery stores have comment boxes so as to discover the needs of their customers. The needs determine the inventory. What store wants gallons upon gallons of milk that will go sour?

Johnny recommends conducting a member survey at least every year, if not every six months. Once the interests are found, then meet those needs. Leaders should be willing to listen to complaints from members and to address them in some way.

Remember these insights from Johnny Uy of Toastmasters every time you walk into a supermarket.

If you do, then people will be drawn to your tasty tales and mouth-watering meetings time after time.

Meet the Toastmasters International President:

Johnny Uy—He has been actively involved in Toastmasters for 17 years. He had held many officer positions, beginning at the club level. He moved up through the Toastmaster ranks until his election as International President in August 2006 at the International Toastmasters Convention in Washington D.C. He leads over 211,000 members. He is also president of Pawe Group, Inc. in Cebu City, Philippines.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
rachel@storytellingadventures.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com
http://www.yesalliance.com

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Story & Poetry Slams: 5-Step Evolution of Art


Storytelling and poetry have existed for centuries and now these art forms have evolved into something more intense and lively. Story slams and poetry slams outreach mainly to high school students and college-aged adults, though all ages, cultures and races participate.

My inner radar sounded off when I first heard these evolved art forms. I anxiously attended a poetry slam workshop/contest led by Tracie Morris and Jean Howard at the 9th Annual Great Salt Lake Book Festival on October 28, 2006. Tracie and Jean shared the basic format of a poetry slam. I searched other sources to find what aspects are common.

Format of Story Slam/Poetry Slam (may differ from event to event)—

  1. Anyone Can Share Poem/Story
  2. No Props or Costumes
  3. Five Judges from the Audience and/or Pre-determined Panel
  4. Time Limit
  5. Audience Reactions
Anyone Can Share Poem/Story
All are welcomed to perform and so all types of genres are shared—tall tales, legends, scary stories, romances, hip-hop, social injustices, and the list goes on. Events may censor what can be shared, though most tend to be open to any theme, expression, or style. Some slams may not be appropriate for children 12 years of age and younger.

How is a slam different from an open mike? A slam’s first priority is to the needs of the audience. An open mike is seen as a network of supporters for the artist.

Marc Smith noticed that some open mikes needed a breath of life into them as some participants droned on without connecting to the audience. Marc partnered with Dave Jemilo, owner of a Chicago jazz club called the Green Mill; they created the Uptown Poetry Slam held every Sunday night ever since July 25, 1986. Now, the Green Mill is known as the Mecca of Poetry Slam.

Slams occur mostly in taverns and coffee shops, though other venues sponsor these contests such as festivals, bookstores, libraries, and even Humanities classes. The Ruth Lilly Hoosier Storytelling Festival in Indianapolis had their 3rd Annual Story Slam in October 2006 and awarded $100 to first place and $50 to second place.

No Props or Costumes
Though I have not seen why props and costumes are discouraged, I suspect it is so the audience can focus on the words and the performance. Perhaps another reason would be that props and costumes might give unfair advantage to participants.

Five Judges from the Audience and/or Pre-determined Panel
Random selection from the audience can give anyone a chance to be a judge. No previous experience in judging is necessary. Jean Howard suggests that a pro slam poet gives the first performance, drawing hearty response from the audience, so that the judges can practice giving scores. Of course, this can calm—or terrify—the amateur slam poets.

Poetry slams have either a 0-to-10 scale or a 1-to-10 scale (with 0 or 1 being low). Rarely are perfect 10s given. Out of the five judges’ scores, the highest score and the lowest score are dropped. The three remaining scores are totaled so that the contestant receives a grand total of 0 to 30 points.

Tracie Morris confessed that some slam poets have the performance skills but lack the quality in the poem itself. Judges may let some less-than-desirable pieces slide due to stage presence, though contestants should not expect this to always be the case. There is no telling what piece will grab the judges. What can win in one round may stink in another round.

The Ruth Lilly Hoosier Storytelling Festival’s Story Slam prefers to have a pre-determined panel that includes professional storytellers, teachers, and students. Scorecards are divided into five main categories—

  1. Presentation Skills
  2. Creativity
  3. Staying within Time Limit
  4. Audience Applause/Approval
  5. Story has Beginning, Middle and End

After the event, contestants receive copies of the evaluation forms.

Time Limit
More people can participate when there are time limits. According to Poetry Slam Inc. and the National Poetry Slam, each person has a three-minute limit with a ten second grace period. As for Story Slams, the tales should stay under five minutes. Any second over the allotted time and points are deducted from the judges’ scores.

Audience Reactions
Jean Howard said that when she acts as emcee for a slam, she teaches the audience how to react. She practices with them on how to boo, hiss, and stomp feet. This way, the audience will be more vocal and bring more excitement to the event. Applause may be a rarity.

Tracie Morris noticed, “Sometimes the best response is for people to not like your work.” Difficult or controversial themes are often unleashed. Perhaps the performer’s intent is to have the audience react, despite if the reaction is positive or negative.

Regardless of themes, audiences interpret your body language. Tracie pointed out that doing a particular gesture once, like throwing down your fist, might be more powerful than if done repeatedly.

Beyond gestures, Tracie likes to take out the rhyme in her poems to see if she still likes her work. Tracie warned, “After the 15th person uses rhyme, the audience gets fatigue.”

Audience fatigue can be avoided if a poet/storyteller develops writing skills. Tracie stressed that you “learn how to write well by reading.” Books keep you well versed in ideas so you can create your own ideas. Plus, reading may inspire which lines of poetry—or parts of a story—you may want to prioritize.

If you want to be part of a story/poetry slam—whether as performer, judge, emcee, or audience—most likely there is an event in your neighborhood or nearby city.

As for Salt Lake City, you can go to a poetry slam at A Cup of Joe’s on 353 West 200 South every Saturday at 8:00pm. I met some people who would love to have storytellers so you may find that a poetry slam can be a story slam and a story slam can be a poetry slam.

On a grander scale, you can go to the 2007 St. Louis National Storytelling Conference for its Story Slam or to the 2007 National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas.

The final step of the evolving art of storytelling and poetry may be the time when those two art forms become one.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
rachel@storytellingadventures.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com
http://www.yesalliance.com

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Memory Madness: 3 Ways to Invent Personal Stories


Some storytellers work like mad scientists as they piece the story of their lives with a brain here and a piece of plumbing there. Finally, they search for the ever-needed bolt of lightning to spark the creation to life.

Our lives have so much adventure to them that rarely should we exaggerate our experiences. Yet, some people feel that is exactly what they must do. Perhaps they would change their minds if they attended “The Fertile Field of Memories: A Panel on Writing the Memoir” as part of the 9th Annual Great Salt Lake Book Festival on October 28, 2006.

All four people on the panel—Phyllis Barber, Betsy Burton, Rev. France Davis, and Rita Williams—published their own memoirs and shared insights so that others could delve into their own experiences. (See bio info on panel members below.)

Phyllis provided a structure that the others could comment on. The three most important concepts I received:

1. Look at an Angle
2. Remember the Senses
3. Create Distance


Look at an Angle

Often storytellers are tempted to share everything about their lives. The descriptions of a particular chair sometimes last for minutes and the listeners have not connected why this chair is so important. The glazed-eyes look could indicate the listeners’ boredom.

Rather than sharing everything, come up with one to two angles. Anything more could confuse—or worse—bore your listeners.

Phyllis says a question she asks herself is “What do you want to gain in writing you story?” This question can also apply to performing. If you can answer this question, then you may have a better idea of what angle you should take.

Or you may be like Rev. France Davis where he takes chapters 62 and 63 of his book “France Davis: An American Story Told” to go over the same incident through two different pairs of eyes.

Could you see this as an interesting storytelling technique? Rita prefers to “write for the voice that couldn’t speak.” Usually we know what happened to us, but what would a family member, a friend, a stranger, say about the same incident?

Remember the Senses

This step you may be pulling your hair out of your head if you have a bad memory. As for me, rarely do I remember anything beyond the action.

One must almost run their life’s history as if it was a movie. Can you remember the weather? Lighting? Landscape? Phyllis says that, whenever possible, try to visit the place involved with your story. Space can affect your feelings and landmarks can influence you.

Due to my frustrations of my puny mind, I asked this question of the panel: How much do you leave to your memory for the story and how much do you research to aide your personal story?

Rev. France Davis said that he trusts to 95% of memory. For his book, he had someone interview him, had it recorded, and then transcribed. The interviewer could ask questions to delve into the details so that the interviewer’s experience would interface with that of the Reverend.

Betsy also said she mostly wrote from memory while Phyllis shared that she would check newspapers to check on details. Phyllis noticed that she would get some things wrong. She then had to decide which “truth” to go with—hers or the newspapers.

Rev. France Davis said he had “memories that didn’t happen when it actually happened.” He remembered his parents running a store while he was a kid. He discovered through his siblings that this store was out of business before he was born. He smiled and said, “There are always others who help you on the way.”

Rita had an amazing resource to jumpstart her memory: her diary. She had written in it since she was 11 years old. Some sentences were a little confusing and had to be interpreted such as “wore new socks to school” or “the dog got hit by a skunk.”

Create Distance

Usually, if we still cannot seem to shape the story, it is probably because we are too close to the story. Phyllis warns, “Truth disappears when too close to it.”

When you have control of your emotions, then you can look at the surroundings of the story. A line in a journal could really be referring to something else. Look to the background of the story for, as Rita says, “Truth lies in the background.”

You may want to write the thoughts you remember in a notebook/journal and then come back to the story a week, a month, a year, or even a decade later. Your mind will be clear and you may remember things you did not remember the first time.

Regardless of the results, Phyllis knows you “can chase your story for years . . ..” Mad scientists are able to shout victory and laugh uncontrollably when, after much struggle and experimentation, the creation comes.

Your personal stories can come to life, too.

Meet the Panel:

Betsy Burton—moderator of the panel and continues to be an independent bookstore owner for over 30 years called The King’s English located in Salt Lake City.

Phyllis Barber—author of “How I Got Cultured: a Nevada Memoir”, which won the 1991 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Prize for Creative Nonfiction and the 1993 Award for Best Autobiography from the Association of Mormon Letters. She can trace her family history to Nevada to the 1860s.

Rev. France Davis—pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church of Salt Lake City and creator of “France Davis: An American Story Told”—He calls himself a storyteller, especially since his book came from an interview that was recorded and transcribed.

Rita Williams—author of “If the Creek Don’t Rise: My Life out West with the Last Black Widow of the Civil War”. When she was four, her mother died in a Denver boarding house and the author was left in the care of her Aunt Daisy, the last surviving African American widow of a Union soldier.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
rachel@storytellingadventures.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com/

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Imagination: 2 Ways to Zap Creativity into Kids


Zap! Click! Are those sounds heard in your living room as the children flip through television channels?

If your answer is yes, then your home is not the only one with these noises.

We are in a media-oriented age. Though we have gained much knowledge from technology, one thing that we are losing is our imagination.

A Kindergarten teacher recently invited me to tell at her school this December. She remembered decades ago when radio programs were popular and she could create images in her head from the stories. The narrator introduced characters and settings in such a way that one listener may see a brown-eyed heroine in their mind while another person may see a blue-eyed heroine. She expected children listening at a storyteller’s feet would have the same affect as the radio program.

Besides this teacher, even children are recognizing that something fading from their minds. While in the theatre watching a movie based on a book, a child sitting next to me said, “The movie ruined the picture in my head. I can’t remember the picture anymore.” I waited to hear the dad respond, but he said nothing.

Parents, teachers, and adults can direct children in certain activities, such as the two I suggest, so that statements of lost imaginations disappear.

  1. Play Storytelling Games
  2. Share Bedtime Stories

Play Storytelling Games--

Stretch the dormant imagination muscles in the mind through active games. A storytelling game promotes creativity and develops speaking and/or listening skills. A video game tends to lack these elements.

Some exciting games can be found in “Raising Voices: Creating Youth Storytelling Groups and Troupes” co-authored by Kevin Cordi and Judy Sima. One example is “Academy Awards Acceptance Speech”. Haven’t we all wondered what we would say to millions of people when we received “Best Picture”? Now you do not have to wait for that moment.

The parent can call out their child’s name, mention which Academy award was given. You can even make it more realistic by having an envelope and maybe even a trophy. The child walks to the front of the room, and then is directed on how to react. Emotions of happiness, surprise, or even sadness could be suggested. The child gives a short speech of why it was an honor or who inspired them. The parent must remember to applaud afterward. Then the parent and child can switch roles.

Many more games are in the book that will work for different ages. Though I find games that engage elementary-aged kids will amuse college students and so on. Storytelling games were almost always played at our weekly gatherings for the Brigham Young University Storytelling Club. I noticed that our shy members at the beginning of the semester soon became more expressive by the end of the semester.

Play hard and play often. The youth you see with me at the top of this message are ones who know how to have fun through use of use gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Anyone could get a physical as well as a mental workout. Can television offer such a reward?

When night comes, your imagination will be warmed up through playing games that the next step of telling bedtime stories will be easy.

Share Bedtime Stories--

Reading books to children is important though I encourage you to tell stories without the books every so often. If you are unsure what to tell a story about, then ask questions that the children answer.

A dialogue could go something like this--

Parent: Once upon a time there was a what?

Child: Uh, a princess.

Parent: Okay, so once upon a time there was a princess who liked to. . .(while looking at the child)

Child: She liked to blow bubbles.

--and so on and so forth.

As you get more practice, then you can do what I like to do. I ask for three things/nouns the listener wants in the story. My college roommates would ask for bedtime stories and I honored their requests. One night they wanted a story with the following: prince, princess, and flying carpet. I could have easily told “Aladdin” though I decided to have fun, take risks, and tell a story from the flying carpet’s point of view.

Regardless of how you tell the stories, you will find these moments precious. I recommend you write at least some of these creations, if not all, for family history before you fall asleep that night.

The two steps of playing storytelling games and sharing bedtime stories will succeed when you are involved. Though a child may play games on their own, they will not be as excited as when you join them. When it comes to bedtime stories, you act as a model of how to expand the imagination.

Zap! Click! These can be sounds heard within your child’s mind as creativity sparks and stories form.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
rachel@storytellingadventures.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com/
http://www.yesalliance.com/

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Frozen Stories: 3 Ways to Thaw Life into Them


Confession: I have told frozen stories--stagnant stories--for over 12 years and I am in the thawing stage.

Hope: Three exercises can replace my constant temptation to use words in a tongue-stuck-to-the-cold-flagpole kind of way thanks to the guidance of storytellers Don Doyle and Liz Warren.

I know there are other storytellers like me who prefer to write their stories. Many times I have heard the warning that writing a story word-for-word will make it nearly impossible to have it evolve or grow in the future. This warning was often heard through my ears the same way when mom called out before I went to school during those Wisconsin winters, "Make sure you wear your mittens!"

The mittens stayed at the bottom of the coat closet.

Though I tend to write my stories, I have convinced myself that I do not memorize my stories. What I am discovering more and more is that my storytelling sounds memorized even if it is not completely memorized. I use many of the same phrases, descriptions, and transitions in the written version of the story as in the oral version of the story. The danger is that I have become bored with my performances, as I have used this style for over 12 years, and this boredom could reflect in my connection with the audience through my tones or expressions.

Now the fact that I have had frozen stories has not stopped the compliments I have received from audience members and program directors on my storytelling. So why change or replace my habits if I have been successful?

Because I know I have frostbite.

Frostbite can get to the point when there is no feeling in the joints or exposed areas of the body. This can be the reason it is hard to even know that I have frostbite. The fingers tend to freeze first. The same fingers I use to write my stories.

If frostbite is ignored long enough, the skin color can change from red to white to grayish blue and finally to black. When black, I must call 911. The medics would not warm up or thaw my frostbite unless there is no risk of refreezing. The question can be asked, "Will I return to my frozen stories?"

If I can answer honestly that I will do my best to remain thawed and alive in my storytelling, then the gradual thawing process can begin. I gently dip my writing fingers in lukewarm water. Scalding hot water would be too much at one time.

Being that I had black frostbite in regards to my writing, my 911 led me to a flight to Arizona to meet with Don Doyle.

Here are 3 ways that are most helpful to me:
1. Create French Scenes
2. Draw Pictures of Key Moments
3. Imagine/Record Dialogue

Create French Scenes--
I was new to the concept of French Scenes when Don Doyle first explained them. French Scenes are main events of the story that begin with one or more key characters enter the scene and ends when one or more key characters exit the scene. Between entrances and exits are developments to the story whether in understanding the environment, revealing character, and forwarding the plot.

French Scenes tend to be divided into 5 parts though I could have as many as 32+ parts for a complicated story.

Let us look at the classic story of Cinderella:
Scene 1--Cinderella asleep at fireplace from working so hard for Stepmother and Stepsisters
Enter Stepmother and Stepsisters as Cinderella's Father gets married
Exit Father as he dies and Cinderella must work for Stepmother and Stepsisters

Scene 2--Cinderella gets Stepmother and Stepsisters ready for the ball
Enter the Messenger from the palace with invitation to the ball
Exit the Stepmother and Stepsisters to the ball without Cinderella

Scene 3--Cinderella weeps in the garden
Enter Fairy Godmother to get Cinderella ready for the ball
Exit Cinderella to the ball

Scene 4--Court, Guests and Prince are in awe of Cinderella at the ball
Enter Cinderella into the ball
Exit Cinderella as clock strikes midnight and she leaves a slipper behind

Scene 5--Prince scours kingdom of who will fit the slipper
Enter Prince into home of Cinderella
Exit Prince and Cinderella to be married happily ever after

If I was videotaping this story and pressed pause, then I have a scene that can be drawn. The exercises involving French Scenes, Pictures, and Dialogue help each other. You may do these three exercises in any order.

Draw Pictures of Key Moments--
I consider myself more of a performing artist than a visual artist so to draw pictures can be intimidating. When I realized that I did not have to create masterpieces and that even drawing stick people would suffice, I breathed easier. Plus, no one else had to see these pictures--only me.

Don Doyle and Liz Warren agreed that drawing in color is most beneficial. I had to truly imagine the surroundings of the story. This will help me remember the images more vividly versus the frozen words during my performance.

Don added that perhaps I could make cartoon bubbles that could be written statements that reflected what the characters were feeling toward the other characters, objects, or situations in the story. Dialogue would not be necessary, only thoughts.

Imagine/Record Dialogue--
Once I know the characters in the story, whether minor or major characters, then it's time to understand what these characters might say to one another. These dialogues may develop a back-story that is never used in the actual performance of the story. What is important is that I understand the background more than my audience.

Don Doyle and I pressed the record button on the tape player and performed pieces or scenes of the story. Camcorders work, too. If I cannot find another person to play along with dialogue, then I can always represent all the characters. This is all impromptu so pauses, stumbles, and stutters are perfectly accepted.

Keep in mind that these scenes are all dialogue between characters. No narration is given. Even if I choose to tell the story with little or no dialogue, this is a fun way to brainstorm.

This is my chance to imagine the possibilities and reminds me that the story should never be frozen to one way.

I believe I am no longer in the black frostbite zone. Where are you?

When I want to tell the story again, I will review the French Scenes, Pictures, and Recorded Dialogues. Once I go through these exercises and after I have told the story many times--perhaps 50+ times--then I can finally type the story for my legacy.

Only this time when I write, I will keep my mittens on to keep my fingers from writing frozen stories.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
rachel@storytellingadventures.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com
http://www.yesalliance.com

Monday, September 11, 2006

Selfish Storytelling: Help You/Help Others,Part2


The identical twin brothers of egotism and altruism must be watched closely so you can see life illuminate from your business.


In Part 1, assuming that you read that entry, you already know that my father and uncle are twins.


Let me share another story from my dad's family--

It was a cool and breezy day in early November of 1949. Barbara, a sophomore, had just come home from high school. She felt good about the day except for a dry cough that just wouldn't go away. She figured she would be over the cough soon.

But that cough was a persistent one. In time, this dry cough turned into the whooping cough. Now the whooping cough was dangerous because it could lead to pneumonia. It had a way of drawing in your breath as if you were going to choke to death--especially with all the phlegm. Usually you would make deep coughs that sounded like a "whoop"--and thus the name of the sickness.

It wasn't the type of sickness that would simply come and go. Oh no! It came to stay. Once exposed, you showed signs of it within two weeks. Then you suffered it for two weeks. Another two weeks would be recovery time . . .hopefully.

Once a family member had it, the whole family would be quarantined--or forced to stay--in the house so it wouldn't spread to the neighbors. As for my Grandma, she heard the news that her family was quarantined.

Despite the inoculation that was available, it was too late for the two-month-old twins, David and Don, caught the cough like everyone else.

The doctor knew that everyone would be able to pull through except for the twins and told Grandma, "I don't give a plug nickel for these boys' lives."

Grandma wasn't about to accept this fate for her boys. She and Grandpa were convinced that the boys could be saved--if only the boys were watched day in and day out.

Aunt Kathryn, Grandma's sister, also came forward to help with the watch.

Meanwhile, Barbara was filled with guilt. Why did she have to be the one to bring home the whooping cough from school? And yet it wasn't her fault--she didn't realize she had whooping cough until it was too late.

Barbara wanted so much to help along with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Kathryn--but they didn’t let her. She was frustrated that she--a 15-year-old--couldn't be given the responsibility to watch over her twin brothers! She hated the sound of the whooping from the rest of the family. She didn't know how to alleviate their pain.

Barbara, as well as the other three siblings, would peer inot the crib that held David and Don. The twins were so small (only about six or seven pounds each) that they could lay crossway of the bed and still have room.

Grandma slept very little--if at all--from Thursday to Sunday. The phlegm could choke her little boys at any moment, so Grandma devised a way to take the phlegm out with flannel-cloth diapers. She would wrap the cloth around her finger and insert it into the mouths of the two-month-olds.

Sometimes taking the phlegm out wouldn't do the trick. The babies would cough and not be able to catch their breath. When this happened, Grandma would place the babies on their tummies on the lower part of her arm. Then, she would swing them upward so that they could breath again.

Once Grandpa had to do mouth-to-mouth for little Don.

After weeks of constant love and attention, the family was able to pull through--including David and Don.

How often is there someone to watch over us?

We may not all have Grandma or Grandpa or Aunt Kathryn to see that all turns out well. There will always be the people, like Barbara, who wish to help but no one lets them.

The world is also full of organizations and associations that offer their help to us yet few listen. Perhaps these groups have selfish motivations since your adherence to their services creates more prestige and visibility to them. Perhaps these groups have charitable motivations for the people truly believe in what they profess and desire that others do not have to struggle as some might have done.

I believe most organizations have two identical twin brothers of egotism and altruism that can also be reflected on us, as individuals.

As a professional storyteller, it is smart to turn to the local and state arts councils. Many of these councils, like the Utah Arts Council (http://arts.utah.gov/), provide free or minimal fee classes that can guide artists on the business, marketing, or craft areas. The Utah Arts Council also provides a free online database on their website that any artist can submit to, even if the artist resides outside of Utah. Finally, the Utah Arts Council has an online calendar that anyone can submit Utah arts events.

If I want to have a competitive edge, it may seem the best idea to keep these courses, online database, and calendar quiet.

This may show an egotistical route, but this decision must be balanced with kindness.

When a decision leans too much on a selfish side, then, eventually, you will not have friends to turn to in a business crisis. When a decision leans too much on the altruistic side, then you may feel content for what you have done except for the empty wallet.

Here would be a balance in regards to the Arts Councils:

Egotistical Side—

I announce the availability of the courses, online database, and online calendar to the other storytellers in the area. The more storytellers enrolled in these areas will show the Utah Arts Council that storytelling is a strong and visible art. This will generate more respect for the art and the council may gear more of its classes and grants to this art.

As I announce these opportunities to my fellow storytellers, then some of these storytellers may announce opportunities in return.

Altruistic Side--

With more professional storytellers enrolled in the courses, they will learn skills that will raise the standard for storytellers. As more tellers are listed on the database, then there are most chances that I would not be chosen as the storyteller for a particular event. When storytelling events are listed on the calendar, there is a possibility that it may interfere with an event I am putting on.

If Grandma were to watch only one of the twins, then the other twin most assuredly would have died. When the identical twins of egotism and altruism are watched carefully, then everyone can survive and be happy—you, your peers, and even the organizations and associations.

So we can see that we can love the selfish and kind sides or ourselves as long as we do not love one over the other.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
rachel@storytellingadventures.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com
http://www.yesalliance.com

Friday, August 25, 2006

Selfish Storytelling: Help You/Help Others,Part1


Here is the paradox: egotism and altruism are brothers, identical twin brothers.

Am I promoting selfishness or kindness? You may wonder how such attitudes could bring success to a professional storyteller or to any other career.

When I was about the height of my dad's knees, there were many times I cried for my dad. Perhaps I had stumbled and scraped my finger. Perhaps I wanted attention (which to this day, I always cry for) or perhaps I missed my dad. Whatever the reason, I had a grand lung capacity and could turn all heads when I wanted.

On one particular day at a family gathering, the tears streamed down my face as if the world was at an end. I tugged on my dad's pant legs and looked up through my clouded eyes. Then he looked at me, shook his head, and said, "I am not your dad!"

What trauma! He was not my dad?! Of course he was my dad. He had that blonde-brown hair and the big glasses. How could he not be my dad? My cries heightened.

Then, out from among my relatives came another person who looked like my dad. At the time, I did not realize that my dad and my uncle were identical twin brothers.

As I got older I noticed some differences between my dad and my uncle. My dad's nose points slightly up while my uncle's nose points down. My dad is taller than my uncle--something I could not figure out when I only was as tall as their knees.

Despite their differences, they had many similarities. They both have voices that are so similar that I sometimes must listen for a few seconds to determine who is talking. They laugh the same. They are both into Ham Radio. The list goes on.

So it goes with egotism and altruism.

Many people, regardless of their career, think about competition. They compete with similar industries. They compete in the office. They compete with their peers. They compete with the world.

Why?

That list of reasons could be endless. I do not suppose I know all these answers. I can talk for myself.

True, I want to build a legacy and be remembered by others including my family, my peers, and perhaps by the world.

I recently took a survey about my reasons for wanting publicity from the book "Sell Yourself without Selling Your Soul, A Woman's Guide to Promoting Herself, Her Business, Her Product, or Her Cause with Integrity and Spirit" by Susan Harrow.

Out of 16 reasons why people would like to have publicity, here are my top two reasons:
1. Acquire professional prestige
2. Galvanize support for my community or cause

Funny, is it not? The first one is clearly a selfish reason. The second one is more charity-based.

Let me give you an example of something that is both egotistical and altruistic (I will include other examples in later blog entries)--

Eventually, I will add a page on my website dedicated to places to find grants and funding. I will divide these grants into national, state, and local levels. These grants would somehow be connected to the arts, storytelling, and/or education.

Selfish Side to Providing Places of Grants/Funding--
One of the most common reasons I am not hired as a professional storyteller is because, for some reason, the sponsor believes I tell stories for free. Another common reason is that the sponsor does not have enough in their budget or has a lack of budget.

Besides letting people know about grants, I would give tips on how to write successful grants. I would also include phrases specific to storytelling and specific to me as a professional storyteller to be used in grant applications. I may not write the grant for the sponsor, but I will give enough guidance to secure the sponsor's loyalty in bringing me in as a performer.

Altruistic Side to Providing Places of Grants/Funding--
I will dedicate much time to research appropriate places to send grant proposals. Being that this listing of grants will be on my website, anyone would use them for other purposes than to bring me in as a professional storyteller to their event or gathering.

Even telling you what I plan is being altruistic. Now you know something you can do on your own website.

Many times have the twin brothers of Egotism and Altruism been present. We may run up to the knees of Egotism and think we are looking up at Altruism. Or perhaps it is the other way around. Regardless of who you look to, the other twin is not far away and is ready to run to your rescue.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
rachel@storytellingadventures.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com
http://www.yesalliance.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"You Can Make a Living Telling Stories?"


I have often heard the question, "You can make a living telling stories?"

Answer? Yes!

I recently heard this question yesterday at a Utah Arts Council (UAC) gathering. As I met the people sitting around me, I realized I was surrounded by artists. Why I expected any other profession is beyond me!

To be around so many artists was breathtaking and awe-inspiring.

I met a muralist, a portrait painter, a woodcarver, and so many more wonderful and interesting people. I noticed a theme. These people were all visual artists. I wondered if I was one of the sole performing artist representatives being that I am a professional storyteller.

The seminar put on by the UAC geared towards creating successful press releases. Two presenters, one from the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper and one from the KSL TV station, answered our questions.

Publicity is more powerful than advertising. If you have the money, then you can buy an ad. Publicity comes from a third-party who believes that what you do is important enough to feature.

The KSL man said that TV does not do as many feature stories. They are focused more on "hard news." They used to have more time for the arts.

The man from the Salt Lake Tribune echoed this sentiment. He said he wished he could report on anything and everything related to the arts, but lack of staff as well as lack of space in the newspaper were at risk. They used to have art critics and now, either for budget constraints or search for experts to review, art critics do not exist.

I spoke to both of the presenters during breaks. When I pulled out my business cards, they both seemed fascinated that I was a professional storyteller.

Many times these men talked about visual arts and now they realized there was another kind of art in their midst--storytelling.

They each receive roughly 3,000 emails a month asking for time on TV or space in the newspaper. Most requests are ignored.

For both the TV and newspaper angles, something popular or groundbreaking is required to make a presence.

Where does storytelling fit in?

The KSL man said that their station is currently forming a one-hour program. He is unsure of what will be the focus, yet he suggested that I, as a storyteller, check it out.

The Salt Lake Tribune man was the one to ask, "You can make a living telling stories?" Perhaps to him, storytelling is "groundbreaking" despite the fact that storytelling has been around since humans could talk.

How popular is storytelling? How groundbreaking is storytelling?

You will get mixed answers. Many people do not see storytelling as a visible art. Obviously paintings and sculptures are showcased in museums and galleries throughout the world. Where can people go to view storytelling?

To give a sampling of ideas, storytelling can be found at festivals (whether geared specifically for storytelling, arts, or any other kind you can think of), libraries, schools, colleges, museums, camps, civic groups, Scout events, clubs, organizations, prisons, shelters, celebrations (parties, picnics, memorials), and the list goes on.

You cannot hang a professional storyteller against the wall like a painting and you cannot keep a storyteller as still as a statue. We are interactive with the audience and with the story told and so we are in constant movement.

People tend to remember glimpses rather than remember concrete moments of storytelling in their lifetimes. Their parents told them bedtime stories, they heard ghost stories at a sleepover, they sat at the feet while grandma told about the time she almost didn't meet grandpa--these are glimpses.

When people hear stories as adults, then they go back to these moments. At the same time, they realize that no matter what age they are, they love a good story. That hasn't changed.

So can you make a living telling stories? What do you think?

I am anxious to hear your comments on this blog.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
rachel@storytellingadventures.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com
http://www.yesalliance.com

Monday, August 21, 2006

Everyone a Mentor


I learn from everyone that I meet. In this way, mentors surround me.

National storyteller/coach Doug Lipman is always sharing the message of finding mentors. These mentors can serve in several areas. For example, a storyteller could use a mentor for coaching. Another mentor could aide in marketing. Still another mentor can be a pure listener. Anything you would like to study in depth--whether strength or weakness you possess--can be a reason for a mentor.

I believe the more people involved in my life, then the richer are the lessons I learn.

As of now, I consider the monthly gatherings of the Utah Storytelling Guild as a large group of mentors. I tend to focus on their skills for artistic development. I also meet monthly with a small group of four tellers at a library that may be artistic development mixed with marketing. Finally, there is an individual who always challenges me to the next step in my storytelling career.

Still, I search for more mentors. I appreciate those who currently guide or motivate me. Yet, there is an endless list of skills to hone. Being an intense listener is one of these oft forgotten skills.

Thankfully, mentoring can be done in-person, by telephone, or by email. A mentor could live on the other side of the world and technology would make it possible to still communicate.

I prefer to meet with some type of individual or group at least once a week in regards to storytelling skills. Being a storyteller can be lonely despite performances among vast audiences.


If you would like to be a mentor and/or a mentoree, then you can go to http://www.story-lovers.com/mentors199.html.

You will be asked to email the following information:

Location by region:

Name:

Email address:

Website:

Objective: Being a mentor or a mentee or both

Years of experience as a storyteller:

Special interests in storytelling:

Special experience in storytelling:

Brief bio:

What you can offer:

What you are looking for:


Who knows? Perhaps we will be mentors for each other!

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
rachel@storytellingadventures.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com
http://www.yesalliance.com

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Birthday Celebration


Today is my birthday and, in many ways, I celebrated it early. To no surprise to anyone who knows me, stories are the best gifts.

For the first time (and I predict not for the last time) there were stories told at Game Night Games, a store that sells various European board games and card games.

A storytelling friend of mine, Daniel Bishop, was decked in pirate's gear as he told stories of Captain Kid, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Blackbeard. This storytelling/game event was advertised to have 24 spots, and as far as I could tell, all spots were filled.

This was an adult audience who were new to storytelling yet there were many moments of intensity and awe throughout the telling. Many people told me that they liked this new format of starting with stories before playing the games. As a storyteller, I am not surprised by the response.

Yet, imagine my surprise when playing the board game Pirate's Cove and one of the cards revealed Anne Bonny and Mary Read! Since Daniel shared stories about these vicious and daring plunderers, we knew this was no task for a landlubber. (A landlubber is an insult as non-pirates who do not go to sea much.)

If you go to http://www.gamenightgames.com , then you can find out what other events could "shiver yer timbers".

Remember, I welcome stories as birthday gifts!

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
rachel@storytellingadventures.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com
http://www.yesalliance.com

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bucket-filler or Pipe-builder: Storytelling Debate

I was introduced to the terms "bucket-filler" and "pipe-builder" from Cevin Ormond, who is part of the company Teambuilder. Over a week ago, he told a story--something that always catches my attention--and I am still thinking about it.

I admit that I do not remember the exact names, as this often results from the oral tradition. Cevin said he found this story by the author Robert Kiyosaki. I am sharing what I remember or at least what images came to my mind while being told this story:

Upon a lovely island was a group of thirsty people. Each one of these people had to wake up with the sun so that they could draw water from the spring that was miles away. The day was far spent by the time people had received their fill of water. Their arms were so sore that nothing else could be done upon the island.

Two villagers thought how they could help their people. Let us name them Phil and Tom.

Phil dug a pit in the middle of the village and lined it with stones. The next morning, before even the sun awoke, Phil took a couple buckets to the spring. He filled the buckets with water, walked the many miles to the pit, emptied the buckets of water in the pit, and headed to the spring again.

By the time the other villagers awoke, there was a nice reserve of water. Phil offered the water to the people for a price and the villagers gladly paid it.

Meanwhile, Tom watched. Most of the time, Tom kept to his home. This went on for a year. Perhaps it was two years. By this time, Phil made so much profit from filling his buckets with water and emptying them in the pit that he was the wealthiest man on the island.

Then came the day that Tom made an announcement. "I will charge half the amount that Phil charges for water!"

Phil looked around and laughed. Where was Tom's reserve of water? Then Tom turned a knob and out of some pipes spilled forth water. Tom had built pipes underground that led from the spring to the village.

The villagers cheered as they could get water whether it was day or night and for a lower price than charged by Phil.

Phil grumbled under his breath and then had his wife help carry buckets to keep up with Tom's supply. Then he had all seven children carry buckets of water. Phil slashed his prices and only slept four hours every night. While Phil and his family labored, Tom laid in his hammock and watched as the money rolled in.

In fact, Tom had so much time on his hands that he built pipes in other neighboring islands.

To this day, Phil and his family continue to fill buckets, and their grumblings can still be heard throughout the island.

Now that you have the story of the bucket-filler and the pipe-builder, who do you think you are? The bucket-filler or the pipe-builder? Why?

If you answered that you are a bucket-filler, then understand that most people--maybe as many as 95% of people--are bucket-fillers.

As a professional storyteller, I create relationships with many types of people, most likely those who have the ability to hire me or those who know who has the ability to hire me. I am contracted to tell at a specific time at a specific place for a specific people. After I perform, what happens? If all I do is go home, then I have been a bucket-filler.

Recently, I have built an email list of Utah storytellers and story appreciators so that about twice a month I provide events that involve local storytelling events that are open to the public. I list more than the events that I am personally involved in. Could this possibly be one way to be a pipe-builder? Why or why not?

I would hope that the people who read the emails would trust me as a storytelling resource. This trust may lead to future performances and workshops.

I am still wondering what would be pipe-building opportunities as a storyteller. I welcome any comments or ideas on this topic.

When in doubt, we can always ask Cevin Ormond what he thinks. You can email him at Tconcept@mail.xmission.com or call him at 801- 280-8365.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799
rachel@storytellingadventures.com
http://www.rachelhedman.com
http://www.yesalliance.com