January 13, 2014 by Paula Reed Nancarrow
Ok, so this isn’t exactly the start of the new year. But it is my first blog post in 2014. Actually my first post in months.
What, you didn’t notice? Why am I not surprised.
Technorati’s most recent State of the Blogosphere report counts 120 million active blogs. And these are just the people who care enough about blogging to register with Technorati. Who is reading all those blogs? There seems no end to the making of them.
This blog began haphazardly, as many do.
I needed a web page and professional presence for my first solo Minnesota Fringe Festival performance, The Sins of the Mothers, in 2011. For about two years it has been a miscellany of personal reflections on the art and craft of storytelling, reviews of performances (especially during the Fringe, as I’ve also had shows in 2012 and 2013), thoughts on the creative life, and written versions of stories I have performed. Like my previous Live Journal blog, Ordinary Time, it has been erratically maintained.
I had many things I intended to write about and reflect upon – but so do a lot of people.
What I did not have was a clear plan, and quite frankly, when life happens, it is hard to motivate oneself to commit to a regular schedule of posts for “A Miscellany.” Nor is it easy to attract an audience, beyond the people who know and care about you, or might want to read that story you told at The Moth last month.
I have recently taken on a second job in the world outside my laptop, a very deadline-driven job, so it does not seem like a smart idea to commit to a major project at this time. I am actually cutting back significantly on my storytelling for a period as well. But that makes it more important, not less, to have a creative outlet. Every storyteller needs a solid platform – whether it is digital, or a stage constructed from milk crates. My hope, eventually, is to be able to do both with a modicum of grace.
What I am going to experiment with for the next few months are posts that might serve as prompts for others.
I figure this will keep me writing, developing material, and connected to the performance community, even if it is probably beyond my capacity at this point to polish stories, tighten them for a time limit, and learn them on a monthly basis. The closest audience circle for this is storytellers and spoken word artists in the Twin Cities who are participating in theme-based performance events. But I’m hoping that the posts will be useful idea-generators for any writer or storyteller.
There are three such events I have regularly performed at: StorySlamMN at Kieran’s Irish Pub in Minneapolis, The Moth Story Slam at the Amsterdam Bar in St. Paul, and – a venue that allows a longer story but is still theme-based – Cheap Theatre at the Black Forest Inn, also in Minneapolis. For the first two, you put your name in the hat; the last is a curated event, but the themes generally make good writing prompts. I’ll begin with the first, and see if I can maintain a regular schedule before I add another. And I’ll try to do this early enough that it gives people time to get thinking.
All of the dates and themes for StorySlamMN are posted here: the next theme is “Frisky.”
that will be the theme of my posts this month. It’s a word with many associations, as Merriam-Webster will tell you, and as we will explore. Today I thought I’d leave you with a quotation for inspiration. Quotations are often one of the ways I spark a memory or association for a story, and I expect to use them a lot here.
A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones. – Arthur Conan Doyle
Does this one prompt a story for you?
You can brainstorm in the comments field if you want, here, or on any of the social media sites I share my blog posts on.
And if you are interested in learning about the many storytelling and spoken word events in the Twin Cities, check out the Story Arts of Minnesota website – they have a great monthly calendar, and will even email it to you.