[Theme for this A-Z April Daily Blogging Challenge: “Story Slams & Traditional Storytelling – Bridging the Distance”]

How does it feel to tell a story at a slam…knowing you’re being scored?!

I got home from my first Moth Story Slam last November close to midnight, still pumped and excited after the nighttime drive from Denver. The house was quiet, the Old Doggie went back to sleep, and I needed an emotional outlet so I jumped onto Facebook and posted some happy exclamations (more on that when we get to Letter I in a couple days).

Being the middle of the night for many/most of my FB friends, I didn’t expect much if any response at the time – but almost immediately a storyteller friend in New Zealand appeared! (It was early evening the next day on that side of the planet…)

After a kind compliment to me, she wrote:

“I wonder if it feels different to tell a story when you are being judged in that way? For a placing? As opposed to just telling. What effect does that have? What do you think?”

In the throes of my heightened emotions (again, more on this in a couple days), I sat on my couch and thought about her questions…and at that midnight hour she prompted me to remember back as precisely as I could to just how DID it feel to me, to get up and tell a story in a competition situation? It was, after all, the first time I had ever done that, and it had been quite an experience…!

Realizing that it could feel very differently to another person, or differently for me at another time…I identified what it had felt like to me:

A Game!

Here’s what replied to her, in full:

“Very good question! Briefly, only being able to speak for myself, here’s what I experienced: I simply went onto the stage and up to the mike and honestly never once had a thought about placing or pointage or judging at all – I simply did my usual thing: having a good time telling a story I love to a roomful of attentive listeners; it’s my passion and delight! Afterwards, I was really just mostly real curious as we waited for the scores, and when they were put up…well it was just fun for me – felt like a game!

The whole thing of this judging in a storytelling competition, assigning scores on a scale of 1 to 10…strikes me as a curious enterprise-! …the scoring thing just kind of felt like a game, like I said. For me, the storytelling itself – I’m happy to discern and report, now that your question has made me think about it – was pretty much the same experience I always have: joyful, powerful, great fun, and always an honor and a privilege!  Thanks… it was fun to think about that! Cheers!”

In future A-Z postings I’ll look a little bit more specifically at the judging process and experience…but (and partly due to the verve, personality and skill of that evening’s emcee, Kristen) my experience of “storytelling for being placed” felt mostly like a kind of game.

Maybe that’s a significant part of story slams’ appeal?  What do you think?!

Thanks for reading – Pam


Cheerful-guy-with-beach-ball image courtesy of stockimages at