Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘revisiting your stories’

Storytelling Starters ~ Reflections on Telling and Writing

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot of late about the differences between telling and writing. Specifically I’ve been thinking about them in connection with personal tales. Here are some of my reflections – with a photo of some reflections to suit!

Personal tales

In storytelling, personal tales can play various different parts. They can be told in storytelling workshops where all kinds of ‘exercises’ can be based on them. They can be told in performance, perhaps as a kind of preamble to a bigger fictional tale. In Chinese storytelling traditions, I’ve read, this is a common technique.

But personal tales can also be told for their own sake and, in my recent thoughts about them, I’ve been considering some of the features that make them work in the telling. One way I decided to explore this was by consciously writing down some of the personal tales that I commonly tell either in my work or in personal life. I know this may seem very odd. Why bother to write down tales I normally tell, perhaps in conversation, sometimes in the course of a storytelling session? Well, doing so has made me newly aware of some of the distinguishing qualities of the spoken tale and how these have to change when you’re writing things down. Conversely, it has also made me understand from the opposite perspective what the storyteller has to learn to do when unpicking a written tale to make it work for a telling. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Memory Work 1

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

What better time for thinking about memory than the start of a new year. And thinking about memory is what I plan to do in this blog over the next few weeks. I want to write about it in a descriptive way, paying account to how different kinds of remembering interconnect with each other. I hope you might respond with points from your own experience. Maybe they’ll tally with mine, maybe not.

Getting ready

As National Storytelling Week comes closer at the end of this month (details at, there’ll be people all over the UK engaged in work on remembering stories. Some may be nervously planning to tell a story for the very first time. Others will be old hands at both remembering and telling. Yet, though well-practised in the techniques, they too will be engaged in memory work – perhaps preparing a new story for one or other of the week’s events or maybe ‘re-remembering’, namely revisiting a story that they already know in preparation for retelling.

Some of my most fascinating chats about how memory works have been with a concert-pianist friend of mine who used to be my piano teacher. He has dozens of large-scale pieces of music literally at his finger-tips. If he was so disposed, he could sit down and play any or all of them straight off. Poor me, in contrast, I’m daunted at the prospect of memorising even one single page of music. How on earth do pianists do it? (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Making Connections 3

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Time is key in modern life. In so many ways, we are governed by it. We keep track of it on watches and phones, schedule appointments on calendars and computers, set electronic beeps to remind us of upcoming events, timetable weekends and holidays along with our work. This week, Making Connections tells a traditional Native American story about the power that time exerts. It also suggests a key storytelling method that can help to get that power back.

Keys – and a tale for adults and older children

Background to the Story

How Mink Stole Time is a myth of the Salish people, a North American Indian people of the North West Pacific region. I myself have a personal link with Salish traditions. Some years ago, when the North American Welsh Choir asked me to suggest a story that could form the basis of a new commission for piano, choir and storyteller, I put forward a Salish story about the lifting of the sky and the bringing of light to the people. The resulting piece – Lifting the Sky – was composed by Canadian composer Victor Davies and American poet Carolyn Maddux and in its first performances in the Olympic Peninsula, I narrated the story. (more…)