"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Story Police: 3 Ways We Arrest Our Progress in the Art

Laurie Allen, professional storyteller and music teacher, mentioned the term "Story Police" during a Utah Storytelling Guild meeting. With her permission, I have taken that phrase as well as three common sayings either said aloud or in our minds.

A five-year-old boy playfully grabbed another five-year-old boy and exclaimed, "I'm a police officer and you're under arrest!"

I smiled, but wondered about this response. Seeing the reaction from me and the three other kids in the room, the boy repeated, "You're under arrest! You're under arrest! You're under arrest!"

My smile changed to worry. Since I am married to a man who works for a police department, I did not want the boy to think that taking people to prison was the only duty of a police officer.

Despite all the help that police give--from finding parents of a lost child to "How to Change a Flat Tire 101"--sometimes we first think of the negative.

That could also happen when you hear the term "Story Police".

The following sayings may sound familiar. . .though there are also positive counterparts:

Negative: You can't do it that way. That is not storytelling.
Positive: Storytelling is an art of exploration.

The definition of storytelling is as easy to define as cookies. People have a vague idea of what to expect, though there are certain people are definitely know what it is not. An official answer has never been posted by any of the main storytelling organizations, perhaps for fear of being labeled as "Story Police" or offending friends in the art.

This does not prevent people from thinking--or spouting--their opinions.

Our lives are inundated with story. It is only natural that people would have many ways to express what they mean by the art.

Negative: No one would be interested.
Positive: Somewhere there are people willing to listen. Let us find them.

Though we are unique individuals, we also share universal experiences. Then, there are cultures and sub-cultures within our world who think in one way or another. Based on statistics, there must be others who would enjoy or embrace your storytelling program or idea somewhere. Of course, there is always the chance to come upon something so specific, it is not financially sound to pursue the idea as a professional storyteller.

We need to balance the potential audience members to the compensation expected. Otherwise, it may be another reason we have kids and grandkids. . .guaranteed audience!

Negative: Why did you think of something that dumb? That will not work.
Positive: Stories evolve and so do my ideas.

Sometimes we wish we could look into the future and discover if our ideas would work before we work on them.

So far, a time machine has yet to be invented.

Meanwhile, we must approach ideas through the trial and error method. A person could have hundreds--even thousands--of failed projects and ideas. I have heard people say that each failure is then one step closer to success. Yet, when that grand idea comes as a result of learning from the failures, people remember most your accomplishments.

If you ever need assurance of this fact, then attend a funeral or a wake.

The next time you hear "Story Police", consider that we do not have to put our art under arrest. Rather, we could live and tell in our neighborhoods. . .with safety and peace.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com/
Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/rachelfans
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

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