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I’m a storyteller. I might have mention this a few times. I am not a writer naturally, but I write to tell stories. However, there’s more than written word as a means to tell a tale.

Per dear Webster, this is the definition of a storyteller:

sto·ry·tell·er- noun \ˈstȯr-ē-ˌte-lər\ : a teller of stories: as a: a relater of anecdotes, b: a reciter of tales (as in a children’s library), c:liar, fibber, d: a writer of stories

The last qualifier is what I’d guess a lot of people think of when they think of a “storyteller,” someone who writes. But look at all those qualifiers that come before “writer” in this list!

Nothing like telling stories at the pub

The first one is the equilivant of that gal who always has a “so this one time…” story up her sleeve. The example that comes to mind is the entire premise of the show How I Met Your Mother. It’s an extended series of anecdotes. It even takes place largely in a bar, which, come to think of it, is probably where a lot of anecdotal stories have been told throughout the ages.

The next one is a “reciter.” When you think of wandering ministrals who sing epic ballads or old matrons who sit down and tell children stories, this is the reciter. A few hundred years ago, aside from the anecdotal bar stories, you had the “professionals.” There were people who made their livings telling/singing stories. In fact, skalds (the ancient Norse equiliant of bards) were revered in their societies because if they told your story, it was the one sure way of immortality. They not only had to be entertaining, but also keep up with history. Yet now, we think of music and stories as two separate things. We think of people who orally tell stories as something fit for only children. Not okay.

Qualifier three is…well, to be quite frank, a negative one, at least to most people. Those of us inclined toward creating works of fiction, technically, lie. We tell tales that we know are not true, but then, so does our audience. I think the difference between fiction and a simple lie is the intent. The intent with a lie is to deceive. The intent with fiction is often variable, and while it may trick people, that is rarely its sole intention.

The final qualifier, as I mentioned above, is to be a writer of stories. This is the “respectable” mode of storytelling in this day and age. And by respectable I mean people will still belittle and criticize what you write. Plus the competition is fierce. But you can get paid to write stories. Singing them or telling them aloud, you can make cash there too, but you’ll probably need to work a Ren-Faire circuit or get into musicals (which are both things I adore, btw) and again, compete with other performers for attention. Telling stories about that one time might get you a free drink, but don’t bargain on more than that.

That said, it’s not easy being a storyteller professionally. But with such a wide definition, there’s a little bit of one in everybody. And that’s an encouraging thought indeed.

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