Last week I read the book Dancing With Words by Ray Buckley. It is an instructional and inspirational work about the art of storytelling in the oral/aural tradition. I started this book with a thrill of excitement inside of me because I had the opportunity to hear Ray Buckley tell a story about four or five years ago. It was a DVD that I borrowed from my Mom, not quite as powerful as listening in person, but I assure you I was riveted. Tears streamed down my face in the privacy of my living room as he wove his amazing tale in a voice that is gentle and engaging with the lilt of a natural born storyteller. I can hear that voice when I read the book.
Though the tips are intended for those who stand before an audience and tell their story aloud, the information was relevant for all those who are called to share stories. I also felt that the specifics on voice, posture, and using props would be useful to authors when doing readings at conventions or book signings. People want to connect with other people, what better opportunity to engage with your readers than to touch them with an amazing story told face to face!
There are at least a dozen quotes from the text that I would love to share, but I think most of them would be more powerful if read within the context of the story as a whole. I will share a few that I feel are the most meaningful for myself, and perhaps for those of you who write your stories rather than telling them aloud.
“Stories surround us. Rich, deep, and colorful. Stories so full of laughter they wait to burst like warm watermelon. Stories surround us that will lift our spirits and make us want to sing. There are stories in the weather, stories in the trees, stories in the animals we encounter, and stories in the people we see for only five minutes. There are stories around us every day needing to be shared… It isn’t that we hunt them out (although we sometimes do) but that we remain ready when we find them.” [pg. 41]
This passage speaks to me even now. We crave stories, and those of us who are called to be story-sharers must wait, like vessels to be filled, for the stories that touch our hearts.
The next is a truth for all of us to keep in mind, storyteller or not. I felt this was particularly important in the writer world for authors who do get a chance to step out from behind their computers and meet their readers.
“Your story is being told the moment you walk through the door until the moment you leave. Be conscious of those around you and responsible toward them.” [pg. 97]
Finally, words of wisdom for all who’ve embarked on this long journey of sharing the stories which have filled them to overflowing…
“Think of storytelling skills as those that you acquire over a lifetime and resist the temptation to expect immediate results. Enjoy the process, and love what you do.” [pg. 83]
Thank you Ray Buckley for sharing your gift.
I’d love to hear your reactions in the comments. Are you a storyteller? Do these words speak to you? Or have you met someone whose work you admire and then been wowed, or less than impressed, by the “story” they told in your presence?