I consider myself a techno-toddler, taking slow, cautious, and purposeful steps through the wide, wonderful world (www--get it?) of the Internet. I ask hundreds of questions, "Why? Why? Why?--just like any little kid. I fearfully ponder and tentatively play with keyboard actions that could probably be figured out in two minutes by any preschool-through-second-grade computer user--"Push the button," one six-year-old told me, "Just push it. It wont break."
Often, I need to rely on the strength of someone elses skills as I try to walk through a process, like a toddler clinging to her daddys hand as, for the first time, she carefully, carefully walks down the stairs.
Finally, when Ive figured out what I want or need to do, when Ive done my research on how and why, and visited web pages to get ideas on process and presentation, and asked too many questions, I bravely go for it--toddle, toddle, toddle.
Okay, gaining skills and doing anything on the Internet is a slow process for me. But Im happy with the results, particularly my first big baby step as a "professional" storyteller. About six years ago, I wanted to expand my potential venues from the area of Ohio and its surrounding states to--toddle, toddle, toddle--anywhere in the rest of the country. My first big, really big, SCARY big, baby step into strongly advertising myself on the Internet was a page at Storyteller.net. And Sean Buvala, our fearless leader at this wonderful web site, walked me through everything I needed to do. With paternal patience, he explained things via e-mail, and gave me information that helped me make decisions on what I should say about myself and my storytelling. I was never sure of myself, but Sean helped me get things done.
That was several years ago, but I still remember immediately getting more work. Within two weeks, Id been contacted by educators in different areas of Ohio who were looking for a storyteller, and saw my name. There among my e-mails were two with the subject line: I SAW YOU AT STORYTELLER.NET. I couldnt believe it! A week or two after that, I was contacted by a media specialist in a school five miles from my home; she had searched for storytellers, found Storyteller.net, and was thrilled to see someone who lived near her school (mileage expenses were a concern) )from Ohio listed at the web site.
Okay, I was still within the state of Ohio, but I was hearing from folks who hadnt gotten my name from the Greater Columbus Arts Councils artists directory, or seen me showcase for summer library programs; my new web page was filling a gap in the way I promoted my work. And within a month or two, I received e-mail from the East Coast and the southern U.S. I took the jobs in Ohio, and the word-of-mouth advertising from those schools opened doors to other venues. I sent promotional kits to the other states, and began taking longer steps on a new and exciting journey called "being a national storyteller".
But I still consider myself a techno-toddler. Im happy when I remember how to send someone an e-mail postcard--"Oh, look! I made a pretty picture!" And, with deep gratitude and respect for his skills, I still reach for Seans hand as I promote my work. No matter where I go in this world, no matter how much more I learn about advertising my storytelling business or informing others about the gifts of the oral tradition, I will always maintain a page at Storyteller.net. Its good business sense, and thats not baby-talk.