Monday, May 9, 2011

Work in Progress: My Storytelling Debut and High Stakes

Here it is! It’s about nine minutes or so (curious how a five-minute story can mysteriously grow longer under that intoxicating spotlight…).


It was a fun night, and I was honored to appear with many fabulous performers. (You can see their stories—and stories from Story League’s first show—at this YouTube site:; updates will appear daily for the next week.

I’m not sure what exactly I “learned” by doing something new and difficult for me, unless it was that one should push themselves into doing new and difficult things from time to time.

Also, I enjoyed thinking about writing and storytelling from a different perspective. For example, this story actually had quite a bit of material preceding the point where I start talking. I quickly decided to cut that out, realizing that here is the point where the real story actually starts and that all that background was unnecessary. When you’re standing up there in front of a bunch of drunk people, you really need to grab their attention and hang onto it. That’s the same principle in written writing of course, but when it’s you up there instead of words on the page, the stakes feel infinitely higher.

Another scary aspect is that in this form, the stories are all true. It’s you right out there, you telling your own story, you who have to take the audience from start to finish. Again, high stakes.

And, ultimately, that was my favorite thing about this experience: the reminder that all stories, whether spoken or written, should involve very high stakes.

Special thanks to the show’s producers and Story League’s founders: S.M. Shrake and Cathy Alter.

If you’re interested in storytelling—either giving it a go yourself or attending future shows—you can “like” the Story League Facebook page (!/StoryLeague) or learn more at the website:

All right, Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close up….


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.