Every Teller has a story-bag, a list of stories they know and can Tell at the drop of a hat. I've been performance storytelling about 3-4 years now, but my bag is still pretty small.
There's my favorite - Alitaptap and the Sky King, The Thimble/The Axe, Marcella's Three Tests, Penduko and the Snails, Heron and the Hummingbird, The First Woman, Pina and the Pineapple, The Sea, Sky, and Wind, Bathala and the Coconut Tree, Juan Tamad and the Market Horse, the Battle of the Wind and Rain.
There's the ones I think I've only ever told one time - The Golden Rooster and the Greedy King, Seven Silly Brothers, the Hummingbird and the Carabao, The Three Brothers and the Princess, the Rainbow Princess, The woman who left her jewels in the sky - the endings of a couple of these are really vague in my mind.
That's over a dozen. Hrm. Not bad actually. More than I thought.
Last night's Tell at the Library was pretty cool - I wore my T'boli garb, played my gong, and told the Bathala story for the first time. The garb really set the tone and the rhythms on the gong I used seemed to work well. I discovered, though, that my vocal pitch drops when I'm thinking too much. That's good to know for next time. One little boy, though, said the story was sad, and I guess it was - I was thinking about Silversong, had dedicated the performance to her memory. And the story is about the death of a friend. I'll rework it to bring out the caretaking more.
There was time for me to tell two, so I did Alitaptap which got a few laughs. The surprises of the night were the presence of SheilaG, my improv teacher, and Jason Quick, a local juggling performer and motivational speaker. Jason had seen my FB notice about the event and yep, I got all fan girl on him a bit too. He's a one-armed juggler, for goodness sake, and a terrific speaker. I'm hoping he comes back and joins the Guild. It would be great to have him on board.
So, between the garb (gonna have to figure out how to secure my malong better), SheilaG, and JasonQ being there, I was more than a bit nervous, but it seemed to go well. Kel and Doug were the other Tellers and it's always fun to share the stage with them.
I've been thinking about meaning lately, how to bring a story full round to a meaning, how to hint at it in the beginning without overplaying the hand, or overstating the obvious. In improv, though, we're supposed to be obvious and trust that the connections and meanderings will just happen.
Maybe this entry is about how I under-regard myself because my progress is slow, at least to my thinking. There have been artists who talk about each moment they perform is the culmination of their lives up to that moment, they say "People ask me how long it took for me to write this book/poem/song and I tell them, all my life, up to that moment." And I think I look at myself when I'm at the page and I think "I've lived my whole life up to now to make /this/?" Implying that what art I've made isn't worth all that life, or maybe that my life hasn't been all that much if the results are so poor on the page.
An artist once told me never to write about weakness in my blog, to be overly self-conscious. I've tried to do that, but it's a sort of censorship that today, I guess I just can't buy into. I'm hard on myself, I get that, but what's hard is that I can't see anything different, even after realizing I look at my work and my 'career' so pessimistically.
But I look to the start of the entry to find the ending - my story bag /is/ small, but I've given 3 dozen performances over the last three years and that's pretty cool. I even remember people telling me they liked my stories, gotten high-fives from tellers I respect and learn from. And I'm not likely to stop Telling anytime soon. There's always next month's third Friday tell, and a Scary Stories Tell sometime around Hallows (I'm thinking an awsang story might be in order... gotta brush up on my scary screetches and old women poses...), plus I think a Tell near Winter's Solstice where I'll try my hand at the Bathala story once more... or something about the return of the sun... seasonal stuff is hard with Filipino stories since the seasons are so different there than here.
I think my writing is the same. I got a collection of poems out to a couple of contests this week. I've got the start of a couple of pieces for my packet due in a few days. I've got work to do, more than enough ideas.
So maybe for me, it's not a matter of figuring out why I'm overly pessimistic, but to just keep following my art, see where it takes me, set some small, reasonable goals, and to just remember to have fun.