Beyond Borders Storytelling

Stories for Wanderlusting Adventurers.


Featured Storyteller: Megan McMahon - What surprised me developing a story
Will Spargur

How did you get involved in storytelling?
Basically I went to a story jam in September and thought it was really fun, a good challenge. After the jam I started writing down all these interesting experiences that might make a good story. One I wrote down, the one with snakes, fit perfectly for the October Scary jam theme. I knew some people were afraid of snakes.

What did you think of the process?
I really liked it. The workshop was good way to get started developing a framework for the story. Practices were great opportunities to get feedback. People had suggestions and ideas I had not thought of, ‘was story working?’, ‘were people getting what I wanted them get out of it?’.

When I first emailed Zachto ask if there is anything I should do to prepare, Zach said, ‘make sure what your point is’ It made me think about my story. My relationships with my counterparts and dig deeper and think about that relationship.

Have you ever performed in front of a large group?
I have not done any performances but I’m a teacher for middle school. My kids are about 10 years old so knowing how to keep students engaged helps. But it’s also different because I know the students. Strangers and adults are a little more nerve wracking. I kept thinking, ‘What if I mess up?’

How did you feel when you first took the mic?
I was really nervous. I thought I would look at the audience and forget my entire story, but once I got started it was fine. I practiced enough that it just rolled out. Also since the electricity was out it was really dark and I couldn't see anybody .

One surprise I discovered is that I really appreciated the creative process of developing a story. It gives time to reflect on my experiences. Thinking about not just what happened in the story but the impacts of it, how the people around me reacted and how it influenced me.

Did you have friends come?
My first jam ten friends and family came. They thought it was really fun and said I did a great job. Some had heard the story before. People who never been in Peace Corps were mildly horrified by all the snakes. I might have discouraged a few from joining Peace Corps [laugh].

What advice would you give to someone thinking about storytelling
I would definitely say try it out. It’s a great experience. I thought it would be challenging and scary but the process with the workshops and practices provides a lot of support. It’s a fun experience and environment.