When I first decided to venture from writing poetry to prose, I read a lot of how-to craft books and took a few writing courses. Eventually, I decided I wanted a more focused approach so I enrolled in a low-residency MFA program through Goddard College.
You don’t need an MFA or any kind of degree, of course, to be a writer, but it was perfect for me. It allowed me the time I needed to focus on craft, and it forced me to read widely. This is what I’m thankful for most, I think, is the opportunity to read and learn how to analyze other writers’ work. I read works from authors whom I never would have otherwise read. Read more
Are you a storyteller? I come from a long line of storytellers. They’re not necessarily writers (in fact, I believe I’m the first “writer” in the family tree), but they are serious tellers of stories.
I wrote about my family’s storytelling in my memoir. In one scene, I’ve just come home from 4-H camp with a sprained ankle and my father has met me in the parking lot of our grocery store with bad news about my cousin and best friend, Susan. Read more
In his acceptance speech for the 2007 Moth award in New York City, author and storyteller Garrison Keillor tells how his life in storytelling began after the drowning of his older cousin. Keillor was supposed to be taking swimming lessons that summer after the drowning but, in his first act of defiance, he rode past the smells of chlorine wafting from the YMCA and continued on to the library where he immersed himself in books and storytelling.
Keillor says the purpose of storytelling is to become intimate with strangers–something he has made his life from in hosting the radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion,” for nearly forty years.
What is the need that drives us to become storytellers? Every writer and storyteller has an event or series of events that brought them to storytelling.
My foray into storytelling was triggered by my mother’s descent into dementia in her mid-sixties. I wanted to tell the story of her difficult life that ended with her eventually forgetting all of her life’s experiences, almost as if the forgetting was a blessing for her.
Watch the 8-minute video below of Keillor and ask yourself what motivates you to be a storyteller: