I haven’t always wanted to be a writer- I have always wanted to be a storyteller.
There’s a thin line that separates the two things and if you fall on one side or the other I don’t think it matters. But for me the difference is a big one and this is the reason I chose to become a storyteller.
My family comes from the side of the world- not only from where we live now but from the places we came from too ( The Philippines and England/Scotland ) but they have one thing in common.
They love to hear stories and if you’re lucky you are one of the people who can tell a story that everyone will listen to.
To me that was a coveted spot in our family hierarchy. You get lots of attention and a certain amount of notoriety because to this day I can tell you who the good story tellers in my family were.
They were colorful, they were always a little odd and when they died everyone was convinced they came back as ghosts and haunted the houses they lived in. They entertained us in life and death.
To set the stage, this is how the storytelling came together ( which was the same for both sides of my family ):
The lead up to the stories was the same- after dinner or after wr finished dessert, someone would close the curtains or light the fire ( during the winter ) or turn on a fan ( if it was summer ) and then one person would say ( for example ) ” You know that house where Mother’s friend died a few years back? Well, I was walking my dog past there and something really weird happened…”
My entire family loved those ghost stories, they liked funny ones too.
Like when my Great Aunt was a teenager someone thought it would be a great idea to send her Community Choir Group ( which consisted of young ladies ) into a men’s prison to perform music.
My Great Aunt also played the banjo and apparently she was a big hit at “The Pen”
I remember after she told us about that performance we all waited for a punch line or something. I mean. I was about 6 when I heard that story and even then I knew Men’s Prisons were, well, nasty places.
So I said, ” Did they like your Banjo? ”
For some reason everyone started laughing- but believe it or not from that event on when I told stories about my dog or my adventures with my best friends Bonnie and Linda ( we got into trouble once for digging up our Mother’s gardens because we were looking for Vampires ) every single adult in the room would let me spin my tale.
My Grandpa used to say I was a natural storyteller and that he loved the way I put words together- he said I made them fit even if I had to pound them into place like the way you do when you force puzzle pieces together.
He also said that after I got done telling one of my stories, pretty much everyone was ready for a drink and that they figured one day I’d be a lawyer, a writer or my picture would be hanging up in Post Offices and at the FBI where they put up pictures of the ” Most Wanted.”
After I learned to read and write I did got to town with the storytelling. I wrote all of the time and then after I got married I stopped writing. I’m not sure why but I guess I didn’t see myself as a storyteller anymore.
I saw myself as a Ringmaster in a circus where the performers where three sons, a husband and a cat named Wolfgang who fought dogs and won-
I had three pet rats too.
What I didn’t have was that little voice that would whisper in my ear, ” Hey, did you tell them about that weird thing we saw yesterday?”
That voice was gone.
And then like magic- I went on line to look up a place for lunch and I didn’t get the name of the spot right but I did come close- what I found was a website called ” The Soul Food Café “.
I was intrigued the minute I got on the site.
Instead of an address and menu and dining hours for your standard restaurant fare I found writing prompts and ideas for creating poems and challenges tied to advent calendars which contained even more ideas for stories or crafts and even recipes for pastries.
Without a doubt what I found at the Soul Food Café was food for the storyteller in me and in that moment as I clicked on page after page I found out how hungry I had really been and that I had been starving for years.
The ‘doors’ of the Café shut for awhile, and like the ghosts of my story telling family members I guess I haunted it from my blogs until Bancroft showed up and like any restless spirit with time on their hands I happily moved in an found a new place to haunt.
What’s changed for me over the years as I have begun to haunt Bancroft is this, I am older ( of course because I came to the Café over ten years ago ) I feel like a writer AND a storyteller and now instead of wearing labels that were slapped on my back as I raced through life I’ve kept one because I am fond of it:
it’s one that my Grandpa Bert gave to me all those years ago- the one that said I was a natural storyteller and I knew how to make those words fit together, even if I had to pound them into place.