FEDERATION OF ASIAN STORYTELLERS // ISSUE 009 // DECEMBER 2020
BY SHEILA WEE
As someone for whom Christmas has always been an important festival, my thoughts at this time of year naturally turn to gifts. This year I am fortunate that my younger daughter has taken on the task of buying gifts for the family, so my mind has a little space to wander on other types of gifts.
There is one gift that needs another to work properly. You need the gift of time to use the gift of reflection. I am very short of the gift of time these days because as well as my usual storytelling work and my work for FEAST I am doing a rather labour-intensive course. I saw this course as an imposition, not a gift, as I have to do it to continue to do some of the workshops that I have been conducting for 20 years. (The training market in Singapore has become very dependent on the subsidy of course fees for participants by the government and to continue to teach government subsided courses after this month you need to pass this course). But the stress of long hours and constant multitasking has turned out to be a gift for it has forced me to take whatever time is left over to reflect and revaluate my work and life choices and begin to make some important decisions for the future.
This is not the first time in my storytelling career (or in my life) I have gone through the process of reflection and change. I feel that stopping to really think about what we are doing, where we are going, and why, is something that every storyteller should do every now and then. In my career as a storyteller, my direction has changed several times. At first, I was focused on learning basic skills, and then on growing the storytelling movement in Singapore.
For a while, I focused on growing my international work as a performance storyteller, but then economic necessity forced me to focus more on teaching to pay my bills. At one point, my reflections led me to consciously move up the value chain to develop more innovative workshops and do workshops that called for a more experienced storyteller. I did this as more storytellers were now in the market and were competing for the same jobs. Another round of reflections made me consciously pull back on my organisational storytelling work and focus only on entry-level workshops in that area. I was being offered consultancy work, but I realised that to do that well I would have to plunge deep and give up other aspects of my storytelling work. The impetus to work on FEAST also came after another round of introspection.
I am not sure yet what will come out of these current reflections on my life and career. But I do know this. We cannot be and do everything, we need to make choices about where we direct our energies. Those of us whose profession is storytelling, have to constantly reinvent ourselves to stay relevant and ensure our livelihood. This too is a gift, because it means we have to keep evolving and growing.
This Christmas season I wish you the gift of reflection. May your thoughts and spirit work together to show you the right path for your storytelling, and for you.
Director, Federation of Asian Storytellers
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To be human by telling stories
A personal storytelling journey from Indonesia
I began my journey in the world of oral storytelling for a selfish reason. I wanted to gain the skill to help me in my filmmaking career. I didn't know that I would end up being addicted to the craft not only because I can learn the art but also because it taught me that the world didn't revolve around me. It never does. And it never will.
Yes. Oral storytelling taught me about selflessness. It was 2017. I was in a comfortable position as a senior creative in the advertising industry and I wanted to shift into my true passion, filmmaking. I felt like I needed the skill to embody the characters of a true storyteller from inside. And since oral storytelling is the root of any other forms of storytelling, I thought that I should set my beginner’s mind and relearn everything from zero.
Read more here
RESOURCES OF THE MONTH
Federation of Asian Storytellers is a Non Profit organization established in Singapore in 2018.