How a storyteller is made – my path

I watched and listened as a man created a world in my mind, the vivid world of a blacksmith, of a smithy shop at the end of a bridge across a river from a hardscrabble town, a river in which lived a being who surfaced only at night then transformed itself, a tale about power, about beauty and alchemy.*

That man was an oral storyteller and I was hooked.

That was a magic night of storytelling at the 2010 Ottawa International Storytelling Festival. I joined the sponsoring organization, Ottawa Storytellers. After three months of listening at storytelling events, I told my first story, about a fire juggler. I then learned a classic Scottish folktale. I dabbled in all types of stories, modern to folklore to my own adaptations of print stories. And I listened to storytellers at every opportunity. I realized being a story listener was most important to mastering storytelling. Finally, I settled into, as a performance storyteller, creating and telling local history stories and Scottish folklore. Hey, I have a famous “clan” name.

As I moved deeper into performance stories and storytelling,  I began to reflect a bit on stories. Like most people my age we started at fairy tales, then Dr. Seuss. I learned to read with little effort. By age 10 I was reading adult level historical fiction. I love history and ultimately completed a BA in history and art history. After university, I travelled for a year then went to work in dramatic film as an assistant editor and in production. I wrote for public radio and magazines and ultimately ended a bookseller owning two stores for almost two decades.

It was as an entrepreneur with many time demands that I created Deliberate Reading. I didn’t have a name for it then. It is my informal method of parsing a book, fiction and non-fiction, for story, for technical development skills, and audience and sales potential. Deliberate Reading was important for my stores success. I needed a sound system as I was busy operating a second company selling bookstore inventory software in the age of first generation desktop computers.

In 1997 I sold the stores and created Digital Folios as a small business corporation at first providing writing, web sites and web content. Storytelling and stories are now my prime interest. I have always found time to volunteer, first on various business associations and then to advise on built heritage conservation, wetlands protection, even a museum board.

My interest in stories and storytelling has expanded to include cognitive reaction to story, narrative inquiry, and the impact of storytelling in applied situations. More about that can be found on the Story Literacy page.

Storytelling adds value to people’s lives, and I enjoy telling.

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* The Blacksmith at the Bridge of Bones, by Ben Haggarty.

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