This is always a double-edged sword for me. On one hand, I am working. Hooray!
On the other hand, if lots of things are happening, I have trouble clearing my head space for different pursuits.
The blog had to wait!
The work is coming in fast, hard, and interesting.
As artists, we are forever taking work that we don't have any idea what to do with but we accept the challenge. We tend to have really good imaginations, but even we cannot imagine all things under the sun.
We know our stuff, and we can do our stuff, but there are so many things we can't possibly know...being human and all.
So, when the world cracks open and people start calling and asking us to do things we never even thought to do with storytelling...it can be fascinating and intimidating. I have found that saying yes is always a good place to start, and then you begin to investigate and research and study. It helps to show you the world in a different way.
Most people who know my work know that I do not do personal narrative very much.
I'm not usually a fan of it either. Personal narrative is hard to craft and even harder to deliver well.
I am not a fan of watching someone bleed all over an audience and wallow in their own misery. I don't find that entertaining.
I am not a fan of watching someone angst all over an audience. I don't find that entertaining.
I am not a fan of watching someone unburden themselves of some horrific, painful, mind-blowingly personal thing on stage. I don't find that entertaining.
If you are taking more energy from an audience than you are giving them...then therapy might be a better choice for that story. We are paying you to be there, after all, not the other way around.
The audience really should walk away with something.
Now, I understand that these are my thoughts and not a rule of thumb. Especially since there is no rule of thumb, is there?
Who decides the standards for this art form?
Who decides what goes and what doesn't?
Who decides what storytelling is?
Who decides what constitutes a good story?
Well, the audience, I suppose.
If they like a thing, that thing gets duplicated.
Clearly, we are in a place where audiences - grown ones anyway - love personal narratives.
Quite some time ago I started working with some personal narrative. I have coached them. I have written them. I have performed them. I try very hard when I create them to make sure they hold to a very specific structure and pattern.
When I coach them, I encourage people to think about them with the same focus as a piece of folkloric narrative.
Lately, I've been asked to start teaching workshops where I help people tell their own stories.
So, here I am realizing a truth about myself.
I often dislike personal narrative because it is 'Me" centered instead of 'We' centered.
I often dislike personal narrative because I like my entertainment time to be way larger than life. If I could see it on a street corner, or down the block or in my kitchen, why go sit somewhere to have someone tell me about it?
I have this same relationship with movies. If I go to a film, I want to see wild, imaginative things that can't happen normally.
Give me a Neverending Story, a Princess Bride, a Lord of the Rings, an Into the Spider Verse...Star Wars, The Dark Crystal...
|The Let's Pretend Record Series. My favorite! Miss them? Here is how you can get copies!|
In the last few years, I've been going to workshops and learning how people are teaching others to find personal narrative.
What I really want is to sit through workshops where people CRAFT personal narrative.
I also would like to enjoy them more. I do like the really good ones I've seen. I started making a list of those, and what makes them entertaining. Taking classes from others has helped.
At which point it occurred to me that I should try to figure out how to break down the process and possibly teach it. That's been sitting in my head for about four years.
This morning, I got up with a full-blown idea. I wrote it all out.
Might even work.
I guess I'll have to start applying to teach this workshop so I can see if it has legs, actually helps people craft personal narrative, and figure out how to shape and improve it as participants teach me what works and what doesn't.
This workshop might be coming to a storytelling conference near you sometime in the next few years.
Man, the creative process is crazy.
Sometimes you have a thought and it blooms into amazing things that you can grab and go with almost at once.
Sometimes it is both grueling and slow with no end in sight. Four years of thinking, making notes, and cogitating produced nothing. Then, after hitting some unknown critical mass...inspiration!
I wish being an artist was easier.