Tuesday, December 9, 2014


When my son was around 4 years old, he tagged along with me as I attended a short conference on storytelling. One of the traditional tales told was The Big Toe (http://www.creativetales.net/the-big-toe#.VHuEg0vtVt0). The storyteller was quite skillful, building up the tension with increasing volume, and manipulating his voice to ominous effect. He finished up with appropriately creepy groans and the final phrase, "You've got it!"---making all of us in the audience jump in delighted surprise. James enjoyed the telling right along with the rest of us. Next came Q & A. The audience asked about storytelling techniques, how to keep your audience's attention, and so on. Then James raised his hand.

"Was that a true story?" James asked.

The storyteller thought for a moment. Then he said to James, "There are Factual Events; and there are True Stories. This story wasn't a Factual Event; but it is a True Story." 

James listened; nodded his head. He understood completely. And I have never forgotten those words of wisdom from this storyteller. Isn't that what we artists are working with, always? The True Story---which may or may not be a Factual Event.

Note: In this day and age I feel compelled to defend my parenting techniques, in case readers think that a 4-year-old should not have been exposed to a creepy telling of a creepy story. My children---who both learned to read before they were five---read anything they wanted, including gruesome Grimms Fairy Tales, gruesome Mother Goose rhymes, and all those other pieces of literature from which children today are so often protected. I often remember what James---and I, too---learned about the difference between Facts and Truths from that performance, and how succinctly and clearly it was demonstrated to him. How fortunate my son was, to learn this at such an early age.

1 comment:

  1. Great story! And what a precious picture of your little boy! Sweet! I sure do miss him!