Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Stories (Ghost and Otherwise)


A couple of days ago, Wendy bought me a replica of Bilbo's sword, Sting. Needless to say I was ecstatic. The Hobbit has been my favourite story for as long as I can remember.

From the time I was 10 years old, I pretty much assumed that one day a great big adventure would walk through my door and sweep me away. It was going to be a hard road and I would resist, but in the end I would wind up growing in ways I couldn't have imagined.

When I got married, I began to realize that adventures come in more shapes and sizes than I had at first thought and that opportunities to save the world as we know it were relatively rare (still don't know anyone who has done it).

So, we're on the subject of stories...

A few weeks ago, I was asked to tell a story in front of an adult audience. This was to be part of my job at the library and I was excited. I've been enjoying the illusion that I am being paid to become a master storyteller. The mundane details of my job are becoming easy enough that I have the time to spend on more artistic pursuits. But, I was having trouble finding a story to memorize. Lori (one of the longtime librarians) made the suggestion of a two paragraph piece that she found typed (by an actual typewriter!) in a binder on her desk. It was an old campfire chestnut called "The Thing at the Foot of the Bed."(5min. YouTube version) I said that I could memorize it in no time, but it didn't seem like much of a challenge.

This prompted a week long discussion between me and several of my co-workers on the nature of storytelling. I came to realize that I don't know how to tell stories particularly well. I've always been great at memorization and most of my acting experience has been around memorized scripts. I perform or recite very well, but without the memorization, I feel totally adrift. I blame my lack of focus. My mind drifts off topic easily. I memorize to compensate. Lori suggested I memorize the first line and the last line and then just try and fill in details in between. It scared the crap out of me, but that's what I tried.

Lori and Jim also offered the piece of advice that the story would be easier to relate and more interesting for my listeners if I told it from my own experience. I decided to set it in P.A. during my 1st summer home from university. I lived across the alley from Mrs. Lund (owner of Lund's Wildlife). Her yard was seriously spooky and featured a shed full of partially completed taxidermy projects and supplies.

When the time came to relate my story, I was more intimidated than I had been in a long time. The story had a definite shape, but no necessary order. I told it and all went well. Along the way I had a fabulous time remembering details from my childhood in P.A. I LOVE working at the library!

Gandalf said, "In fact, I shall go so far as to send you on this adventure. Very amusing for me, and very good for you. And profitable too, if you ever get over it."

And so it was...

Oh, and there was Halloween. It was fun, except for the part where I behaved like a jack-ass (and that wasn't even my costume)
Click for more Halloween pics