Jay Fernandez recalls his experience at Storycatchers’ “Awkward Family Gatherings” live storytelling event which took place earlier this month.
I’ve always wanted to honor my grandmother in a story. She’s 91 years old now and this might be her last Christmas with us. So I knew who the subject of the piece would be, but I didn’t know the setting.
What made you decide to tell a story for Storycatchers?
There’s an old but true cliché, at least for me, which portrays creative people as their own worst critics; along with that self-doubt, many of us are fortunate to have one person (if not many) in our lives who sees more value in our works than we see for ourselves. For me, that person is my wife. She’s a social butterfly and I, if it weren’t for her would be, more like a hermit; when she asked me to read at this event, how could I have told her no?
What made you decide to tell the story you did? Did you know right away what story you wanted to share or did you have to shift through some ideas before you landed on one?
I’ve always wanted to honor my grandmother in a story. She’s 91 years old now and this might be her last Christmas with us. So I knew who the subject of the piece would be, but I didn’t know the setting. Should I write about her at a particular holiday event or in one of the many every day, but not mundane, interactions between her and myself? I wrote in my head a few different outlines and, ultimately, I decided on the story that is as much about my perception of her as it is about who she is really.
What was the experience of being a storyteller at Storycatchers like?
I had read stories at Storycatchers before and it’s consistently been a relaxed and welcoming environment, but my prior stories were written in my head and, for the most part, off the cuff, so I hadn’t felt much pressure. This time, I had been prepping to write for weeks. I called family members and got them to reminisce with me while trying to decide on the path that I wanted my story to take. The night of the telling and just hours before, I couldn’t really think of anything except the reading. I visualized myself telling the story, imagined my body language, and how I would attempt to animate major ideas for the audience. However, while on stage during the narrative, I teleported into the story, reading it as if I were experiencing it for the first time. Afterward, I tried to recall the audience’s reaction to my performance. I looked in my memory for signs of whether they were carried with me: did they gasp, laugh or sigh at the intended lines?
Did sharing your story teach or remind you anything about yourself?
Having people connect with my story reminds me that the world is full of functioning dysfunctional people and only the perfect ones are odd.
More stories at storycatcherscommunity.com.
Text: Tara Pohlkotte