Playing with story
Taking a break from all the intensity of "drive time" rehearsals for next week's audition, I went to the monthly meeting of our storytelling guild, the Bluff Country Talespinners. Heading into town to Grounded Specialty Coffee, where owners Todd and Deb Ondell host us each month, I mulled over what I might tell if I felt moved to do so. Heck, I'd received three different emails from friends on the Northlands board recently, encouraging me to take my story I once told during down time during a conference planning meeting about my brother the rocket scientist. This wasn't really a story performance yet. Other than casual kitchen table tellings, I hadn't really told it at all. Yet, people who'd heard me tell it as a kitchen table tale almost three years prior still remembered it and thought it worth developing. People who are all accomplished storytellers themselves. Why not?
Once we'd taken care of guild business, including the "introduction" of the new sound system purchased for the use of any member, stories began, as always, to flow. Phyllis told one of her charming and nostalgic stories about her mother. Fred shared a column he'd written, reflecting on his daughter's impending wedding, seeking feedback from us as to its worthiness to be worked into a personal story for telling. After all the eyes were dried, we agreed that it was, once he was past the point where he could keep a dry eye himself. It was time to change the pace. Sara asked if I had something to tell, and I figured, heck, why not?
I launched into a casual rendition of my story about the karmic cycle that has led my brother to become a card carrying rocket scientist, and why he must do research to help close the hole in the ozone layer. Figure it out. Better yet, watch for a storytelling performance near you with me on the platform! The response from my fellow guild members was much as it had been when I told it to my tired fellow board members two and a half years past. The Most Important Thing had been excavated by playing with my story. Now it's time to do the hard work to polish the Most Important Thing into it a diamond of a tale.
In the case of this particular story, "diamond" might be dignifying it a bit much. Still, the playtime my guild affords me is worth its weight in diamonds for the returns it brings in helping me grow myself as a storyteller.