I have just had a really productive evening with fellow storyteller Sharon Carr-Wu. We are working on our stories for Tales ‘n’ Veils in October. We have torn our stories apart and have put them back together again. Just telling someone else who listens as a critical friend is so important. I found that I was adding stuff to her stories. I could see them in my head and the words came rolling out. I couldn’t do that for mine. I needed her input to see them in a more compelling light, to add to mine as I had to hers.

Not that I expect her to take on board everything I said. That would make them my stories and not hers. It is knowing what to take on, what to leave behind and what to use as a springboard for a completely different direction. That will take some more time.

When I first started learning stories to tell, I learned the written story and told it. Then I learned the bare bones and told them. Now I learn the bare bones but I’m beginning to flesh them out a bit. Sometimes a rib pokes through, some times there’s a bit too much flab round the middle. That is the joy of it. Eventually there will be a true entity.

You try one way and it works. Try it another that works too and you have a dilemma. Which do you go with? Or do you attempt a third or a fourth? Do you keep to traditional lines or make it modern and relevant to audiences today? I once learned a series of medieval riddles that no one could guess as there were no points of reference for us today. Each one had to be explained, which sort of defeated the object.

It is the truth in the story that compells you to tell it. That is why it has to be your story, told in your way, that eventually comes out of your mouth. If you don’t like a story it will not sit well on the tongue. It knows when it isn’t wanted. On the other hand, a story that is loved by you dances out, adding a little swirl here and a twirl there. Before you know it, it has a life of its own and thanks you for its telling.