What am I doing this for, anyway?

When I started thinking of myself as a storyteller, there were two approaches to the role that I saw in use around me. There are professional storytellers, people like Tracy Radosevic and Dan LeMonnier who make a living from telling and travel all over the country to tell. Then there are people whose professional roles can expand to include storytelling – teachers, librarians, pastors.

It seems like I fall between these approaches. I don’t have an existing role that can expand to include storytelling – and although I approach storytelling with a professional level of commitment and energy, I really don’t want the kind of career that Dan and Tracy have.

Also, our children are grown up and we live just fine on our existing income. I don’t need the minuscule extra income that storytelling provides. Still – other performing artists say that, if I say I’ll work for free, people will assume I’m terrible. Also, if I don’t have any income, the IRS will cease believing that I’m a business – I do have income from editing, but it comes & goes; this year it has mostly gone.

I have been brooding about this for a while and spent some prayer time about it last week. What I’ve decided is to donate all my storytelling earnings for the rest of this year to organizations working towards the UN Millennium Development Goals. And since making that decision, I’ve gotten two gigs! I’ve changed my web site to reflect this policy. So – we’ll see where this takes the project. Right now, it feels good!

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “What am I doing this for, anyway?

  1. That’s very cool. Good for you!

  2. Organizing and coaching are coming to be considered “helping professions”, and there is no shortage of people who want or need the help. I have come to understand that I charge people a fair price, which enables me to help those whom I choose to help. If I don’t charge for my work, I can’t help those I want to help. My charging a fair price benefits other organizer/coaches, and it benefits those I wish to help, and it benefits me to be clear about the value of what I offer.

    I’m glad your policy is working out for you!

  3. Hi Margaret!

    The problem I run into is that people tend to assume that my storytelling is maybe some kind of scam…a way to milk money out of nonprofits, anyway.

    I am charging for my work, I’m just also making clear that I am giving the money away. It does raise some of those left hand/right hand issues, but it seems to be working.

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