I love writing stories down, but for me, nothing compares to telling a story in real time, to real people. Once it's on the page, it's going where it's going. But a story told to another honest-to-goodness person is a once in a lifetime event. It's shaped as much by the reactions of the listeners as it is by the teller.
As self-absorbed as I am, though, I also like hearing the stories other people have to tell--which is where The Moth comes in.
I can't remember if I've talked about The Moth here before--I meant to, but something sparkly may have distracted me. If I did and you remember it, please send me the link. After the first 700 posts, it all starts to run together.
The Moth is a not-for-profit storytelling organization based in New York City featuring "celebrated writers and actors and other unique storytellers." They feature "true stories told live on stage without scripts, notes, props, or accompaniment." Moth stories are broadcast via podcast for free download each week on iTunes, and some of the stories you hear on This American Life were recorded live at The Moth. You don't have to live in New York City to hear the storytellers featured on stage.
But if you are Muffin Uptown and living in NYC for the summer, you aren't going to miss an opportunity to see it up close and in person. And yes, if the opportunity presents itself, get up on that scary stage and tell a story your own damn self.
The Moth hosts competitive StorySlams for the amateur storyteller four times a month, so it wasn't like Muffin would be sharing the stage with Garrison Keillor or Dan Savage. Even so, I was a little nervous. As much as I hate flying, I'd board that plane today if I thought a single big city New Yorker had been mean to my heart of hearts.
So, I had lots of constructive criticism for MU after gave me a preview of the story she planned to tell on stage--stuff to leave out and stuff to stick in--along with some advice about delivery and timing. She left the majority of my advice right where she found it, and--like any good storyteller--told the story the way her intuition and the crowd told her to tell it.
Which--when you think about it--is even better than doing what I told her to do in the first place. I guess she was listening to me after all.
Muffin Uptown took 3rd place in her first ever Moth StorySlam. Not bad for a little pastry in a big city.