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On storytelling and memorization
Nope, I don't memorize word-for-word
I have storytelling friends who memorize their stories, but that happens not to be the way I work. In truth, I don’t have the discipline for word-for-word telling. My memory is good. I can tell the 95-minute story Tristan and Iseult without notes, but I have no interest in memorizing a script.
When I work on a story—whether a folktale, a personal story, or a story from a book—I learn it image-by-image. It is as if I’m telling you what is happening in a movie in my head. I try to give you enough detail that you can imagine it, but not so much that you’re bored out of your gourd. I might memorize the first line and the last line, and if there is an important refrain, I’ll commit that to memory. Otherwise, it’s fairly loose.
I grew up memorizing poetry. Mom would pay us a penny a line. This was one of many ways my brothers and sisters and I could earn money (along with weeding the garden, shining shoes, ironing, and other extra jobs on top of those we were assigned every non-school day).
I had a tremendous sweet tooth, and we lived a short walk from two stores with penny candy, so I was motivated to learn poetry.
I could be lazy and get two cents for Robert Louis Stevenson’s couplet:
The world is so full of a number of things I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings
Or I could get ambitious with Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll Twenty-eight lines meant twenty-eight fireballs, Jolly Rancher candies or ice cube chocolates!
Here’s Jabberwocky, which I still remember:
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