Let me tell you the story of how I began … with nothing in my pockets but a jack-knife and a button. -- Robert GravesIt was one of my favorite times of the school day: the hour when we would sit on the carpet gathered around my second-grade teacher, as she sat in her chair and read a few chapters of a book to us, in a captivating voice that never failed to completely enchant me.
Even though I had devoured the entire book in one sitting the previous night, after my teacher had lent it to me to take home, I still passionately looked forward to hearing her read it to us. And she did not disappoint -- we were all enraptured by her reading of the opening chapters of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. If I recall correctly, she was about midway through the second chapter, when a most annoying interruption came!
An emissary from the school’s office barged in, insisting that my teacher come to the office that very instant to tend to some bureaucratic humdrummery that ABSOLUTELY COULD NOT WAIT! As it became clear to my teacher that she could not ignore this edict, a thought appeared to come to her, which she then acted upon with cool certainty. As she stood up and took a step away from her chair, she pointed to it and beckoned me to take her place. She then handed me the open book, pointed to a specific spot on the page, and said simply, “Start here.” And then, she walked out.
Someone had raised the curtain on my life and said, “begin”. And so I began.
Having absolutely no time to think anything through, I knew, above all else, that I could not let my classmates down. I had already been on this fantastic ride: been there with Charlie as he miraculously stumbled upon the last golden ticket, watched in amazement as Augustus Gloop zoomed up the pipe, sailed with the Oompa Loompas up the river of chocolate and beyond! I had been there, and was now tasked with revealing this wondrous world to the others seated before me. There was nothing to do but the doing of it. So do it, I did!
It was, in a word, glorious. In a few more words -- I did not disappoint (neither myself nor my classmates). A rather animated child by nature (who was still several years away from learning the adolescent truth that it was “not cool” to be so outgoing), I let the lid come off, and made my voice do whatever was required to fully communicate the roller-coaster of urgencies, joys, horrors, and wonders that were magically contained on the pages in front of me.
When my teacher returned a few minutes later, she (being a sensible and sensitive individual) did not interrupt the proceedings, but stood at the back and respectfully allowed me to keep going for the rest of the hour. And the next day at story hour, still I kept going. To my teacher’s credit, in subsequent days she let some other volunteers in the room take their turn at the helm. But that seat of honor, the reading seat, had clearly become my place. I owned it, and it owned me.
Since then, throughout my life, there have been countless opportunities for me to fulfill this fundamental calling -- to be a storyteller. Perhaps I’ll have appropriate chances in future blog postings to relate some of those to you. But for now, let me fast-forward to the present, to the storytelling project that is my professional focus of the moment.
I am in the midst of putting together the third installment in my “Classic Tales” series of audiobooks: CLASSIC TALES OF HOPE AND COURAGE. But I’m sure at this point you’ve had quite enough of my writing, so no more tedious text. Instead, here is a video to give you a feel for the upcoming audiobook.
You may notice that it’s not just a stand-alone video -- it’s couched within a *Kickstarter* project! I’m experimenting with using Kickstarter as a way to “pre-sell” my audiobook productions, which will allow me to ramp up production of more “Classic Tales” audiobooks. If you like what you see, hear, and feel in this video, then please click on through to the Kickstarter project and become involved in whatever way works for you!