"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Monday, March 15, 2010

Are You Hunter or Gatherer? Common Ways Storytellers "Live Off" the Art


Ever since learning about the Ice Age during elementary school years, I delighted in creating dioramas to imagine how people survived once the snow melted.

It was as if we had our mini versions of the museum’s mannequins dressed in buckskin clothes or furs while building a fire, sharpening a spear, or gathering seeds to plant for later.

No matter what culture or country, there has been a history of hunters and gatherers. One way of gaining nutrients is not better than another way. They simply are different.

Naturally, these two ways reflect how storytellers “live off” the art.

Are you a hunter? Are you a gatherer? Are you a mix of both?

Before reading the following statements, consider your experience in the art. Are you new? Are you a veteran of over one or more decades in the art? Ponder on how this experience may affect your answers.

Our hunter and gatherer tendencies may change depending on our stage in the art.

Part 1—

On a piece of paper, write the label “Hunter” and then list numbers 1-7 per line. For each of the seven statements, choose any of the following: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, or Strongly Agree.

1. I enjoy the simplicity of working alone and dwelling in my thoughts.

2. I am frustrated by the conflicting artistic advice from friends and colleagues.

3. I am uncomfortable when a certain number of professional storytellers live in my area.

4. The more I am around other storytellers and artists, then the more distracted I am in regards to my own goals in the art.

5. Clubs, guilds, and organizations add little or no value to what I already know about the art.

6. If I was the only professional storyteller alive, I would still feel motivated to progress in my art.

7. Organizations come and go, but the art is forever.


Now give the following point value for any answers for the above seven statements.



Add your points together.

Total possible = 35 points.

If you have 25-35 points, then you have strong Hunter tendencies.

As Hunter:
You seek out and hunt opportunities and independence. You get your “meat” or performances by the direct actions you take rather than relying on other people or organizations to help make those connections. You improve in the art most when alone and in a calm environment. Although you may interact with other artists, it is more to forward your goals than to progress the vision or mission of others.

Part 2—

On a piece of paper, write the label “Gatherer” and then list numbers 1-7 per line. For each of the seven statements, choose any of the following: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, or Strongly Agree.

1. I am quick to join one or more social networking sites involving storytelling. (Examples: Professional Storyteller social networking site, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

2. I attend storytelling guilds, gatherings, or other social events on a regular basis.

3. I am willing to rearrange my schedule to attend storytelling social events.

4. I refer often to what I have learned at storytelling conferences or gatherings while talking with others.

5. I am anxious to list or share how the art has been strong in the area to fellow artists, neighbors, or acquaintances.

6. My storytelling activity would decrease if certain storytelling groups or events dissolved.

7. A brainstorm session, whether with strangers or colleagues, would be more valuable than a solo brainstorm session.


Now give the following point value for any answers for the above seven statements.

Add your points together.

Total possible = 35 points.

If you have 25-35 points, then you have strong Gatherer tendencies.

As Gatherer:
You gather information and people connections. You harvest so much sustenance that sometimes the “food” goes into storage until you are ready to intake the message(s) or to build upon the relationship(s) formed. You feel an added energy whenever you are around people—whether colleagues or strangers. You improve in the art most when others are there for you as sounding boards, mentors, or as friends. Although you relish in interacting with others, you sometimes feel an overload. The knowledge you meant to apply might be forgotten and the people you meant to keep in contact are lost.

What If You Are Hunter And Gatherer?—
Take the strengths of the Hunter and the Gatherer and create a balance that will keep you fed through any of the “starving artist” times as well as through the plentiful seasons. Be willing to adapt to use the skills that would be most useful during the current economic times.

There are moments when you need to go off into the “forest” to realize and achieve dreams. Though, whenever going alone, you may want to tell one or more people of your intentions so you have a caring support system in case you get lost.

Even the mighty hunter is not meant to be alone. And the gatherer could always use those quiet moments to put everything into perspective.

So go forth and enjoy your catch or harvest! You deserve it.

In case you were curious, I had 21 points as Hunter and 31 points as Gatherer. Feel free to share your results as a comment to this post.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Family Famine Series Site: http://www.familyfamine.com/

2 comments:

ssstoryteller said...

Very interesting analysis
worth the read through..
thanks for the understanding

Tim said...

Hmmm. Scored 19 on the Hunter and just 24 on the Gatherer.
Interesting way to look at tendencies in a chosen artistic field... and I can see how an artist could find success in mixing the two roles (i.e. supporting the larger community and organizations, sharing knowledge of the art, while ruthlessly pursuing niches to the exclusion of others on the business side of the equation).

I'm thinking that we could extend the metaphor further-- that withing the Hunter and Gatherer roles there are further sub-roles. A community of Hunters may choose to work together, and assign different tasks to the common goal of hunting. There are times when hunting requires cooperation and collaboration, not just a lone wolf approach. And, conversely, Gathering can also be informed by the solo individual willing to go outside the communal wisdom to try something new, even foolish, to expand the pool of knowledge.