The Short Story
As Chief Story Activist & founder of OnlyHuman.com.au, Moya Sayer Jones is one of Australia’s leading experts on story. When she’s not writing, blogging, keynote speaking or in pursuit of the latest app, you can find her working with NFPs and restless creatives bringing more meaning and impact to what they do. Moya has worked with hundreds of NFP’s in Australia and New Zealand to discover and express their brand stories.
Moya is a bestselling novelist (Penguin, Allen & Allen), columnist and screenwriter. As the original Modern Guru for SMH Good Weekend magazine, Moya mused on the wonderful contradictions of what it means to be ‘only human’. A graduate of Sydney University and the Australian Film and Television School, her idiosyncratic voice reminds us that it’s our stories that will give us all the answers we need. Follow her on twitter.com@StoryDr
Moya tells the longer story
It’s not easy growing up as the youngest in a family of four noisy daughters. You struggle for airtime and you can never, ever get the attention you know you deserve. I learnt pretty early that if I was going to get a word in, I’d better be entertaining and be saying something that was interesting to the others. Oh yes, I also learnt that you should never give up.
Not surprisingly, my professional life started as a comedy writer. I studied writing at Sydney University and The Australian Film and Television School and then I wrote and performed for television, film, live theatre and print, both in Australia and internationally. In all my writing, I mined my own life (and that of my sisters) mercilessly. Hah! Payback time.
Then about ten years ago, everything changed. I would probably say I had an epiphany (if I was only sure how to spell it).
I was asked to write a non-fiction book, a collection of stories from families suffering disadvantage. The goal was to put vulnerable families on the national agenda. And it did. Ten stories later, I witnessed first hand the power of real stories to engage resistant or uninformed audiences: politicians, government departments, service providors, institutions and ordinary members of the community.
I also saw the effect the book had on the storytellers themselves. I watched their confidence in their own choices grow after they told their stories, often for the first time. It was amazing, wondrous. As they stepped up to become passionate advocates for our project, I saw the conversation with our audience grow and bias give way to understanding. Some of those very first storytellers are accomplished advocates still.
That project convinced me of the power of real stories to connect meaningfully with a wide array of disparate people at a very human level. I was hooked.
And that’s how OnlyHuman.com.au was born. My thinking being that anything that makes so many people feel so valued and so ready to act, has to be good.