The Mysterious Caller

Yesterday was my first performance with a local storytelling group The Folk and The Lore! I mentioned in an earlier post that I was working on a scary story for the group. I finally settled on a scary story that happened to my cousin Janessa. I’m not usually one for telling personal stories, but The Folk and The Lore is set up for people to tell personal stories. It’s meant to be a diary of people from Reno. This was a challenge for me. As a storyteller I’ve only told a total of four stories, all of them were done in a storytelling class that I took at UNR. All the stories I have told were folktales, except for one story that was meant to also be a personal story.

That story I told of when my dad use to tell read me scary stories. I then wove the two stories together so that I could tell the scary story along with telling my personal story. It came out well and also allowed me to tell a story along with keeping it personal. So, when my first idea failed, a story about my grandma in Indonesia, I then moved to a story about my cousin. Once you watch the video you shall see why it’s still a personal story.

Initially the story gave me a bit of trouble. I found that it’s harder to tell a story about someone you know. Especially when people in the audience also know that person. I like to have freedoms with my story. As my teacher Professor Fenimore would always quote if you can make the story better by lying then you would be a swine not to… that’s not the exact quote but it went something like that. That’s not to say that this story didn’t happen, it’s more to say that I took liberties in the names of the characters, minus my cousin’s name, and the specific details that happened. I then reorganized some events to fit better in the whole arch of the story to create tension, but all of the events did in fact happen.

Finally, after getting frustrated one night I sat down and did something that I haven’t done with any story pervious. I wrote it down. Usually I don’t write out oral stories, because I feel it takes away from the story, but this one needed it. After I did that the story began to flow and I had a completed frame.

I am really happy with this turn out and I had a lot of fun at my first event with the Folk and the Lore. You can hear in the background the sounds of the bar we were in. Some of their other events take place at the Nevada Museum of Art and I’m really looking forward to performing there!

Without further ado here is the story The Mysterious Caller!


Passion and Storytelling

The other night I sat down with my mom for dinner and popped in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The day before Netflix had updated their playlist and had added Tim Burton’s version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Initially I had hated the movie, and so I decided to give it another go. Forty five minutes into the movie, I really pushed myself to watch more then ten minutes, I realized that it was true I didn’t like this movie.

As I popped the “Original” movie in I told my mom that I couldn’t take it any longer I had to watch this version. Instantly I fell in love with the movie again. Where the Tim Burton movie, in my opinion, had stunted the magic, the original let flourish. It was at the moment that the song I Got A Golden Ticket was playing that I realized I wasn’t writing the type of stories I wanted to. This wasn’t the first time I had thought of this. Each time the thought creeped into my head I would sit down and reorganize the stories I was working on. The result would be a cluster of ideas that didn’t seem to work, then I would revert back to the way it was. I would tell myself that the story would be better for readers that way. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the version I was working on, it just wasn’t what I initially wanted out of a story.

The one place that I felt stories became what I wanted them to become was when I told oral stories in college. So, I went to the drawing board again and talked to my friend Sean about my writing. I told him how I was feeling. He had heard this many times before, but this time I told him I wanted to write a story that I could be obsessed with. A story that I could be passionate about. I wanted to wake up in the morning and instantly think about it.

His advice was to read a series of articles. I initially thought this was funny because Sean wasn’t one to read, and yet he sends me something to read as advice. At the moment, I wasn’t in the mood to read and so asked him to just summarize. He insisted I read. Reluctantly, I read the first article.

Still to this moment I have not read all the articles that my friend sent me, but the first one has changed my perspective enough. The one thing the article said was when was the last time you wrote something you were passionate about? The quick answer for me was not for a while, because truth be told I hadn’t written much at all. My dream since sixth grade was to be a author. I’ve loved to read since I was little. It wasn’t until the Harry Potter series that I decided that I really wanted to be a writer. Regardless of the fact that I was terrible at grammar (which, is probably obvious just in this blog XD!) I wanted to do it. So, I set out to reach my goals. It was never a question from that day forward what I wanted to do with my life. Yet, as I tried to come up with a series that would match what I always loved about books and even movies it never seemed to work out. Then, when I would come up with a idea it seemed the magic was always sucked away.

The phrase from the article made me think…What am I passionate about? I then set to work and began formulating a list of things I was passionate about. I wrote what kind of books I like and what kind of books I don’t like. I wrote down specific things I was passionate about, and I saw why my book ideas weren’t taking flight. My ideas were good, but I had sucked out all the magic just as I thought. I also realized I was writing too much for other people. This part might seem obvious, but it’s actually a really easy trap to fall into.

One story I heard at the Folk and Lore event I went to was about one guy who worked hard on a project for school in hopes that his teacher would recognize his work. The result was that he had worked so hard only to fail and the teacher praised someone else. This is the exact trap I had fallen into. I became so focused on making my dreams come true. I worried about what would be published, not wanting to sabotage my changes at being able to write for a living. This caused me to always change my stories to what I thought publishers would like and what I thought readers would like. The result was that I never wrote anything. The days would pass and I wasn’t working towards my dreams anymore, and I fell into a trap of thinking I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. I realized I was sabotaging my dream.

After I made my list I then began to rethink some of the stories I was working on trying to find a way to bring back the passion. I wanted to bring back the magic that made me want to write. Then it hit me! I figured out how to change one of the stories. Almost instantly the story took off in a new direction. I texted Sean and he met me at work where we discussed the new ideas and tested out some other ideas. Everything seemed to be going well. I went home and wrote the prologue, and while it wasn’t perfect the ideas kept following. As the story developed in my head I kept telling myself to write what I’m passionate about and focus on that. The list made it easy to think of these things, and so the entire story was blooming in my head, and this time not focused on what other people would like, but on what I would like. If I could create a story that would make me laugh and cry, a story that I can enjoy, then that would make my job as a writer fun and magical. Then if by chance that story made my readers laugh and cry then that’s what will make me become a successful writer. But the beginning starts with me enjoying my work. As my other friend Mike said as a joke “I wouldn’t like this shit, but other people should.” While this may seem obvious and funny sometimes it’s harder to remember. Yet, I realized the type of stories I want to write and tell are those that make people believe in magic. Stories that give people hope.

This weekend my family and I went to the Lantern Fest. The festival was threatened by rain and for a bit we thought we weren’t going to be able to go due to cancelation. The stress of waiting turned into not really wanting to go. It didn’t sound exciting to sit there when it was cold, windy and could possibly start down pouring. Yet, we went and as soon as we got there the rain stopped. The sun came out and it was actually quite warm. A friend of mine got a fire pit so we joined them and sat there waiting for the sun to go down.

LANTERN FEST PIC 5We roasted marshmallows, I made my friend Rachel eat mine, and enjoyed some of the booths. The s’more’s packets came with markers so that you were able to write on your lanterns. I decided since I had come up with some cool ideas, started this blog and had plans for oral storytelling that I would set a lantern up that represented my dreams. So, I wrote May My Dreams Come True in Japanese on my lantern.

Lantern fest pic 1

As the sun began to set and the moon came out the place became dark. The only light was that of the torches and the fire pits. It was easy to get lost and lose your group huddled around the fire pit. Yet, it created a magical atmosphere that created more excitement for the lighting to begin. A band began to play and after a few songs the announcer came back on to let everyone know that the time had finally come. It was time to start lighting. Everyone jumped up and grabbed their lanterns along with the lighters that were provided. All around the sight of lanterns unfolding could be seen as the announcer told everyone how to unfold their lanterns. Each lantern was a two to three person job as they had to be held steady. Soon most people had their lanterns lit. In the rush to see all the magic begin and as most people in my group with helping with the other lanterns I stood there with mine just watching. It was like a wave of light. The dark campsite soon lit up in a brilliant gold. Tons of lanterns together suddenly lifted into the air. It was breathtaking, and extremely overwhelming. I grabbed my phone and started snapping photos, many of which came out blurry due to my excitement.

LANTERN FEST PIC 3The lanterns lifted up higher into the air and soon covered the whole sky. It was like a million stars just hovering above us. The whole place was now lit up. Our first few lanterns went up, one for my dog who had passed away only a few years ago, another for my grandparents who had passed away. Then my mom began to help me with mine. I had imaged myself standing there watching my lantern fly off and really wishing that my dreams would come true this time. Yet, due to some wind the lantern kept falling in on itself. As soon as the flame was lit it woLANTERN FEST PIC 2uld burn the paper. My lantern soon had two burn spots. The two black spots had me worried that it wasn’t going to take off. Then the rest of the lantern inflated and as my mom and I let go again to see what would happen it took off. It lifted into the air and joined the many other lanterns. As I watched it I could still see the black spots, but they made me smile, because regardless of them it was still flying high. It was just like the books I wanted to write. The story of people who had dealt with horrible things in their lives that for sure left scars, but they believed nonetheless and found their wings to fly. Charlie finding the golden ticket, Harry finding out he was a wizard, Cinderella going to the ball. My dreams might have a bit of problems taking off, but I realized that didn’t mean they couldn’t fly. The night passed but I will always remember the event and my half burnt lantern taking flight. My dreams just like my stories need to follow what I’m passionate about.

Scary Stories!

I recently joined a local storytelling group called The Folk and The Lore. The group focuses on personal stories, and at each festival or event they have a theme they follow. I decided to join their Halloween festival in which everyone tells a scary story they have experienced!

I went to one Folk and the Lore event and thought it was really fun! So, I decided to give it at go.

The process in developing my story has been a challenging one. This is mainly to do with the fact that I’m not one for telling personal stories. I tend to lean more towards folk tales or made up stories. This is also the case when it comes to my writing, but I figured I would take up the challenge, none the less, and try to develop a good personal story.

Initially, I decided on a story about my Grandma in Indonesia. Before my mothers side of the family moved here from Indonesia they lived in Holland, and before that they lived in Indonesia. My mom wasn’t born at the time when they lived in Indonesia, and my two aunts were really young. Both my aunts remember my Grandma, or Oma in dutch, telling them scary stories. Yet, some of the scariest stories they have to tell are ones that did happen to them. So, I went to work to collect information about these stories.

My mom had always mentioned that in Indonesia they told you to keep your hand covers as you walked through alleyways or else the Ghost would see you and follow you home. So, I decided to ask my aunts about this. Neither of them remembered this story, but they both had other stories to tell. One was about their cousin Sil and how they once thought that she had spirits following her around. The story brought out a bunch of strange events that had happened to the family and other people in the neighborhood. I set to work, and did some research on Indonesian culture.Indonesia pic 1

In my research I found a diverse culture, especially when it came to the dead. Strange rituals…and lots and lots of superstition. There were many pictures of local tribes that took part in death rituals. One such story told that if someone died away from home they would walk the body back so that the ghost might find it’s way back home. I also found some videos that depicted gruesome scenes of animal sacrifices. All of these seem rather scary, but yet at the same time weren’t anywhere near what my family would have personally have experienced in Indonesia.

So, I decided to pull instead from other asian culture and incorporated my Oma’s love of cooking.

After everything was said and done I ran through the story.  The end result was that my  story had become so complicated after adding in so many different elements to the story that it became clear that it was going to take way longer then the ten minute limit that we had to tell the story. So, after going back to the drawing board I realized that I had another scary story that I could tell.

I absolutely love to scare people. Anyone who knows me at work knows that I am the scare king. I usually don’t do elaborate pranks, but sometimes I come up with some crazy ideas. This gave me my idea for a scary story! I’ll keep the details a secret so as not to spoil the story, and hopefully by the time October 30th comes around I’ll have my new camera and be able to record the whole performance to post. Also, I have not given up on the story from indonesia and my research has also giving access to one common folk tale! October is still young! I hope to have a few scary stories posted before it’s done!

Welcome To Storytelling Revival

Welcome To Storytelling Revival!

My name is Josh and together we shall embark on a journey through the art of storytelling!

Storytelling is the one art form that has passed through time. It is able to be adapted into many different forms. All cultures have stories and through those stories they paint a specific image of that culture. Now, while there are many different forms to storytelling one of the most original is the oral story. Stories are meant to be heard. That doesn’t mean that there is only one right way to tell a story. Some stories flourish by being orally told, while others fall flat. The same can be said about written stories. Yet, throughout the years we have come to know stories through novels and movies. It is my goal to revive the oral storytelling tradition and to help create a community of storytellers who can bring stories from their lives and cultures.

Here I will be documenting my journey as I collect stories. I also hope to attract other storytellers who can also post their performances as guests to my page. I will accept a whole array of stories, from personal to folktales to completely made up stories, whatever sparks the desire to tell a story.

Stories are for everyone. It’s a common misconception that the oral storytelling tradition is just made for kids. So, I invite everyone to join in on this journey.

I would like to start at the beginning and open with the classic storytelling opening. From there our journey shall begin!

Once upon a time…