6/23/2008

Windows on the Past



I sat on the edge of the bed in our bedroom at the Loralei looking through the blinds - studying 682 Argyle Road across the street. I observed the house as though I could watch Jim and me as we were fifty years ago. Working with life story - you open a chapter at a time.

What about when you are juggling stories? For example, Jim and I had been focusing on the 1950s in Brooklyn - now I had to switch gears.


One of the reasons I wanted to come to Brooklyn this particular week-end was so that this morning I could continue working with Elizabeth Ellis on my 1970s ERA story. Elizabeth too was staying in a home in Brooklyn, only 2 miles from Argyle Road. How great was that?

The morning was very important for the story. The workshop was a chance to tell it again to new ears, to storytellers who also had a connection to the time of the story, and to Elizabeth who listens intently and then questions the teller to lead you deeper into your own story. And to tell it again to Elizabeth, who knows and cares about the times and event of the story.

Under her questions I felt myself opening more completely to the most valuable aspects of the story. I am grateful for the grant which has funded my working with Elizabeth to craft my story. She has taught me to really appreciate the importance of respecting your listeners by paying attention to the craft of storytelling - as she does in her stories.

And, I have a renewed appreciation for the value of working a story in workshop settings, where you have the benefit of feed-back from other storytellers. Today some of the most important questions for the story came from a young newbie storyteller
who had little knowledge of the time and events of the story. Imagine - she had never heard of a WATTS line - and why should she have - in this day of cell phones and unlimitd minutes. I needed to know that.

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