by Susan Klein, Sharing the Fire 2016 Workshop presenter

susanklein cropBeing a vessel for the well-told story is one of the most satisfying experiences I know.

Becoming that vessel and crafting that story are endeavors that can encompass a lifetime.

Stories rarely erupt into the ether fully-formed. Nonetheless, they have been known to do so. This writing will focus on the other 99.9%—the stories that require research, consideration, exploration, concentration, musing in the Active Quiet™ where the body is at rest and the “mind” is fully engaged, processing, experimentation, and a whole lot of other labor. And that’s the key—labor. It doesn’t matter how much any of us may enjoy these actions, it’s still hard work.

Storytelling is not a snap-on tool. It requires the kind of intellectual, creative, and spiritual diligence that all art forms require. And storytelling is a high art—let us be clear on that—involving the full engagement of the personal gifts we bring supported by the more mundane aspects.

One of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves as artists is the willingness to ask for help with the development of our stories . . . not just the request for help with researching versions of a tale, but with the multitude of factors that go into making meaning—into creating the whole cloth of a story.

I’ve been at this business of the art of story making for just shy of thirty-five years, coaching for thirty. In all that time, and in a sea of change, several things have not altered.
• Effective storytellers make the art of telling stories look easy.
• Ego brings the teller to the stage, and then must be banished in order for us to enter the unspoken service contract we have with the audience.
• To listen to a well-told tale from the body of world culture is illuminating and affirming, oft-times poignant or humorous—or both.
• To hear personal narrative from someone adept at that form is soul-satisfying and one of the foundations of how we resonate with the broader human family.
• With respect to personal narrative, emotional homework—a substantial structural underpinning of that narrative—is sometimes not fully-enough considered or processed.
• That incomplete and not fully-developed material could have (and should have) had the benefit of a longer period of gestation, and, dare we say it—the benefit of professional coaching—for the sake of the story, for the teller, the audience, and our beloved art form.
• The dedication of the storyteller to carefully crafting narrative to make art is what we’re about.
• In the age of the internet, the rules of courtesy of copyright still exist, but are not as well-respected as they once were.
• Common courtesy in asking permission to use the creative work of another must be respected without fail.
• I will, once again, take heat for telling these truths.

The good news is that help is nigh! Story line, character development, credibility, research and source citing, grammar, skill of presentation, and a good deal more are the underpinnings to the story well-told. The chance to have “The Midwife of Story” critique your work with kindness, encouragement, and truth is at hand. We’ve had great success with this format at a number of conferences including the National Storytelling Conference where it was inaugurated.

At Sharing the Fire 2016, three experienced storytellers will have the chance to deliver a story before an audience. Each will receive a critique directly following the telling. Being critiqued publicly with care for the benefit of all is an illuminating experience—for the teller as well as the listeners. The audience has a single task—to listen. The audience is not asked to respond or critique the tellers. There is no Q & A.

I hope you’ll join in as audience or submit an application to be one of the storytellers and give yourself the gift of professional development—the chance to affirm the strong points of your story and to consider what aspects require nurturing.

Want to get some expert coaching on a story – or just observe coaching techniques? Susan Klein will be offering an advanced coaching session at the Sharing the Fire conference on Saturday afternoon, April 2. Learn more about Sharing the Fire and register today!
To learn more about Susan Klein, go to http://www.susanklein.net/.

To sign up for Susan’s coaching, see below.


Indulge yourself in this rare opportunity when storyteller and coach Susan Klein will conduct private story coaching in a public venue. Susan will help you examine your story structure, character and plot development, interpretation and delivery, language usage, grammar, and all aspects of creating the well-told tale.
Let the “Midwife of Story” discuss with you the fine points and shortfalls of your work-in-progress and support your spirit while you do the difficult work of refinement that creativity demands.
Guidance also offered on procedures for requesting permissions and honoring professional courtesies.
Here’s what will happen:
Three experienced storytellers will each present up to a 15-minute story before a live audience. After each presentation, Susan will offer a coaching session to the storyteller before the audience. Each story/coaching session will be complete before the next storyteller takes the stage.

To apply to the storytellers’ lottery:
1. You must be an experienced teller. This process is not appropriate for beginners.
2. Email the following information to LANESDIRECTOR@GMAIL.COM by February 26, 2016:
a. Your Name
b. Number of years as a storyteller
c. Title of story
d. Source citation (bibliographic information)
e. Status of story (adaptation of a story in pubic domain; told with permission of copyright holder; original story; personal story)
f. Length of story (not to exceed 15 minutes)
g. 3-sentence synopsis of the story
h. Contact information

Incomplete submissions cannot be considered.

Three storytellers and one alternate will be chosen for the coaching sessions by random drawing. To allow them maximum time to prepare their stories, storytellers will be informed by March 2 if their applications have been drawn.

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