"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Friday, August 25, 2006

Selfish Storytelling: Help You/Help Others,Part1

Here is the paradox: egotism and altruism are brothers, identical twin brothers.

Am I promoting selfishness or kindness? You may wonder how such attitudes could bring success to a professional storyteller or to any other career.

When I was about the height of my dad's knees, there were many times I cried for my dad. Perhaps I had stumbled and scraped my finger. Perhaps I wanted attention (which to this day, I always cry for) or perhaps I missed my dad. Whatever the reason, I had a grand lung capacity and could turn all heads when I wanted.

On one particular day at a family gathering, the tears streamed down my face as if the world was at an end. I tugged on my dad's pant legs and looked up through my clouded eyes. Then he looked at me, shook his head, and said, "I am not your dad!"

What trauma! He was not my dad?! Of course he was my dad. He had that blonde-brown hair and the big glasses. How could he not be my dad? My cries heightened.

Then, out from among my relatives came another person who looked like my dad. At the time, I did not realize that my dad and my uncle were identical twin brothers.

As I got older I noticed some differences between my dad and my uncle. My dad's nose points slightly up while my uncle's nose points down. My dad is taller than my uncle--something I could not figure out when I only was as tall as their knees.

Despite their differences, they had many similarities. They both have voices that are so similar that I sometimes must listen for a few seconds to determine who is talking. They laugh the same. They are both into Ham Radio. The list goes on.

So it goes with egotism and altruism.

Many people, regardless of their career, think about competition. They compete with similar industries. They compete in the office. They compete with their peers. They compete with the world.


That list of reasons could be endless. I do not suppose I know all these answers. I can talk for myself.

True, I want to build a legacy and be remembered by others including my family, my peers, and perhaps by the world.

I recently took a survey about my reasons for wanting publicity from the book "Sell Yourself without Selling Your Soul, A Woman's Guide to Promoting Herself, Her Business, Her Product, or Her Cause with Integrity and Spirit" by Susan Harrow.

Out of 16 reasons why people would like to have publicity, here are my top two reasons:
1. Acquire professional prestige
2. Galvanize support for my community or cause

Funny, is it not? The first one is clearly a selfish reason. The second one is more charity-based.

Let me give you an example of something that is both egotistical and altruistic (I will include other examples in later blog entries)--

Eventually, I will add a page on my website dedicated to places to find grants and funding. I will divide these grants into national, state, and local levels. These grants would somehow be connected to the arts, storytelling, and/or education.

Selfish Side to Providing Places of Grants/Funding--
One of the most common reasons I am not hired as a professional storyteller is because, for some reason, the sponsor believes I tell stories for free. Another common reason is that the sponsor does not have enough in their budget or has a lack of budget.

Besides letting people know about grants, I would give tips on how to write successful grants. I would also include phrases specific to storytelling and specific to me as a professional storyteller to be used in grant applications. I may not write the grant for the sponsor, but I will give enough guidance to secure the sponsor's loyalty in bringing me in as a performer.

Altruistic Side to Providing Places of Grants/Funding--
I will dedicate much time to research appropriate places to send grant proposals. Being that this listing of grants will be on my website, anyone would use them for other purposes than to bring me in as a professional storyteller to their event or gathering.

Even telling you what I plan is being altruistic. Now you know something you can do on your own website.

Many times have the twin brothers of Egotism and Altruism been present. We may run up to the knees of Egotism and think we are looking up at Altruism. Or perhaps it is the other way around. Regardless of who you look to, the other twin is not far away and is ready to run to your rescue.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"You Can Make a Living Telling Stories?"

I have often heard the question, "You can make a living telling stories?"

Answer? Yes!

I recently heard this question yesterday at a Utah Arts Council (UAC) gathering. As I met the people sitting around me, I realized I was surrounded by artists. Why I expected any other profession is beyond me!

To be around so many artists was breathtaking and awe-inspiring.

I met a muralist, a portrait painter, a woodcarver, and so many more wonderful and interesting people. I noticed a theme. These people were all visual artists. I wondered if I was one of the sole performing artist representatives being that I am a professional storyteller.

The seminar put on by the UAC geared towards creating successful press releases. Two presenters, one from the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper and one from the KSL TV station, answered our questions.

Publicity is more powerful than advertising. If you have the money, then you can buy an ad. Publicity comes from a third-party who believes that what you do is important enough to feature.

The KSL man said that TV does not do as many feature stories. They are focused more on "hard news." They used to have more time for the arts.

The man from the Salt Lake Tribune echoed this sentiment. He said he wished he could report on anything and everything related to the arts, but lack of staff as well as lack of space in the newspaper were at risk. They used to have art critics and now, either for budget constraints or search for experts to review, art critics do not exist.

I spoke to both of the presenters during breaks. When I pulled out my business cards, they both seemed fascinated that I was a professional storyteller.

Many times these men talked about visual arts and now they realized there was another kind of art in their midst--storytelling.

They each receive roughly 3,000 emails a month asking for time on TV or space in the newspaper. Most requests are ignored.

For both the TV and newspaper angles, something popular or groundbreaking is required to make a presence.

Where does storytelling fit in?

The KSL man said that their station is currently forming a one-hour program. He is unsure of what will be the focus, yet he suggested that I, as a storyteller, check it out.

The Salt Lake Tribune man was the one to ask, "You can make a living telling stories?" Perhaps to him, storytelling is "groundbreaking" despite the fact that storytelling has been around since humans could talk.

How popular is storytelling? How groundbreaking is storytelling?

You will get mixed answers. Many people do not see storytelling as a visible art. Obviously paintings and sculptures are showcased in museums and galleries throughout the world. Where can people go to view storytelling?

To give a sampling of ideas, storytelling can be found at festivals (whether geared specifically for storytelling, arts, or any other kind you can think of), libraries, schools, colleges, museums, camps, civic groups, Scout events, clubs, organizations, prisons, shelters, celebrations (parties, picnics, memorials), and the list goes on.

You cannot hang a professional storyteller against the wall like a painting and you cannot keep a storyteller as still as a statue. We are interactive with the audience and with the story told and so we are in constant movement.

People tend to remember glimpses rather than remember concrete moments of storytelling in their lifetimes. Their parents told them bedtime stories, they heard ghost stories at a sleepover, they sat at the feet while grandma told about the time she almost didn't meet grandpa--these are glimpses.

When people hear stories as adults, then they go back to these moments. At the same time, they realize that no matter what age they are, they love a good story. That hasn't changed.

So can you make a living telling stories? What do you think?

I am anxious to hear your comments on this blog.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Monday, August 21, 2006

Everyone a Mentor

I learn from everyone that I meet. In this way, mentors surround me.

National storyteller/coach Doug Lipman is always sharing the message of finding mentors. These mentors can serve in several areas. For example, a storyteller could use a mentor for coaching. Another mentor could aide in marketing. Still another mentor can be a pure listener. Anything you would like to study in depth--whether strength or weakness you possess--can be a reason for a mentor.

I believe the more people involved in my life, then the richer are the lessons I learn.

As of now, I consider the monthly gatherings of the Utah Storytelling Guild as a large group of mentors. I tend to focus on their skills for artistic development. I also meet monthly with a small group of four tellers at a library that may be artistic development mixed with marketing. Finally, there is an individual who always challenges me to the next step in my storytelling career.

Still, I search for more mentors. I appreciate those who currently guide or motivate me. Yet, there is an endless list of skills to hone. Being an intense listener is one of these oft forgotten skills.

Thankfully, mentoring can be done in-person, by telephone, or by email. A mentor could live on the other side of the world and technology would make it possible to still communicate.

I prefer to meet with some type of individual or group at least once a week in regards to storytelling skills. Being a storyteller can be lonely despite performances among vast audiences.

If you would like to be a mentor and/or a mentoree, then you can go to http://www.story-lovers.com/mentors199.html.

You will be asked to email the following information:

Location by region:


Email address:


Objective: Being a mentor or a mentee or both

Years of experience as a storyteller:

Special interests in storytelling:

Special experience in storytelling:

Brief bio:

What you can offer:

What you are looking for:

Who knows? Perhaps we will be mentors for each other!

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Birthday Celebration

Today is my birthday and, in many ways, I celebrated it early. To no surprise to anyone who knows me, stories are the best gifts.

For the first time (and I predict not for the last time) there were stories told at Game Night Games, a store that sells various European board games and card games.

A storytelling friend of mine, Daniel Bishop, was decked in pirate's gear as he told stories of Captain Kid, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Blackbeard. This storytelling/game event was advertised to have 24 spots, and as far as I could tell, all spots were filled.

This was an adult audience who were new to storytelling yet there were many moments of intensity and awe throughout the telling. Many people told me that they liked this new format of starting with stories before playing the games. As a storyteller, I am not surprised by the response.

Yet, imagine my surprise when playing the board game Pirate's Cove and one of the cards revealed Anne Bonny and Mary Read! Since Daniel shared stories about these vicious and daring plunderers, we knew this was no task for a landlubber. (A landlubber is an insult as non-pirates who do not go to sea much.)

If you go to http://www.gamenightgames.com , then you can find out what other events could "shiver yer timbers".

Remember, I welcome stories as birthday gifts!

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bucket-filler or Pipe-builder: Storytelling Debate

I was introduced to the terms "bucket-filler" and "pipe-builder" from Cevin Ormond, who is part of the company Teambuilder. Over a week ago, he told a story--something that always catches my attention--and I am still thinking about it.

I admit that I do not remember the exact names, as this often results from the oral tradition. Cevin said he found this story by the author Robert Kiyosaki. I am sharing what I remember or at least what images came to my mind while being told this story:

Upon a lovely island was a group of thirsty people. Each one of these people had to wake up with the sun so that they could draw water from the spring that was miles away. The day was far spent by the time people had received their fill of water. Their arms were so sore that nothing else could be done upon the island.

Two villagers thought how they could help their people. Let us name them Phil and Tom.

Phil dug a pit in the middle of the village and lined it with stones. The next morning, before even the sun awoke, Phil took a couple buckets to the spring. He filled the buckets with water, walked the many miles to the pit, emptied the buckets of water in the pit, and headed to the spring again.

By the time the other villagers awoke, there was a nice reserve of water. Phil offered the water to the people for a price and the villagers gladly paid it.

Meanwhile, Tom watched. Most of the time, Tom kept to his home. This went on for a year. Perhaps it was two years. By this time, Phil made so much profit from filling his buckets with water and emptying them in the pit that he was the wealthiest man on the island.

Then came the day that Tom made an announcement. "I will charge half the amount that Phil charges for water!"

Phil looked around and laughed. Where was Tom's reserve of water? Then Tom turned a knob and out of some pipes spilled forth water. Tom had built pipes underground that led from the spring to the village.

The villagers cheered as they could get water whether it was day or night and for a lower price than charged by Phil.

Phil grumbled under his breath and then had his wife help carry buckets to keep up with Tom's supply. Then he had all seven children carry buckets of water. Phil slashed his prices and only slept four hours every night. While Phil and his family labored, Tom laid in his hammock and watched as the money rolled in.

In fact, Tom had so much time on his hands that he built pipes in other neighboring islands.

To this day, Phil and his family continue to fill buckets, and their grumblings can still be heard throughout the island.

Now that you have the story of the bucket-filler and the pipe-builder, who do you think you are? The bucket-filler or the pipe-builder? Why?

If you answered that you are a bucket-filler, then understand that most people--maybe as many as 95% of people--are bucket-fillers.

As a professional storyteller, I create relationships with many types of people, most likely those who have the ability to hire me or those who know who has the ability to hire me. I am contracted to tell at a specific time at a specific place for a specific people. After I perform, what happens? If all I do is go home, then I have been a bucket-filler.

Recently, I have built an email list of Utah storytellers and story appreciators so that about twice a month I provide events that involve local storytelling events that are open to the public. I list more than the events that I am personally involved in. Could this possibly be one way to be a pipe-builder? Why or why not?

I would hope that the people who read the emails would trust me as a storytelling resource. This trust may lead to future performances and workshops.

I am still wondering what would be pipe-building opportunities as a storyteller. I welcome any comments or ideas on this topic.

When in doubt, we can always ask Cevin Ormond what he thinks. You can email him at Tconcept@mail.xmission.com or call him at 801- 280-8365.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Make a Presence in the Community

Regardless of how long I have told stories, there is always a need to make a presence in the community. When I moved from Fresno, CA to Salt Lake City, UT, I had to let the area know that I have been telling stories for over 12 years.

This has not been my first time to move and re-start my storytelling career. Most of the time I was content with the slow-cooker method of spreading the word. With a logo created within the past month, I finally feel I can be more aggressive in marketing.

Fortunately, my time in California has been wonderful and I am still invited at least twice a year to tell stories or teach workshops. What a compliment when people are willing to fly you out rather than turn to the many local tellers!

For anyone who has had to move or will have to move, I suggest that you find the closest storytelling guild.

I admit that I am not a full-time storyteller though I plan to be in the future. Half of my time I work for Aflac. Yet, rather than settle in with a job, I first search for the storytelling guild. The friendships and mentorships found in these places are valuable. I credit much of my success and progress to the Brigham Young University Storytelling Club, the Voices of the Valley Storytelling Guild in California, and the Utah Storytelling Guild.

If you need to find a guild close to you, I would be happy to assist in your search. Feel free to contact me.

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799