It all began on the back of an envelope.
Only Human Stories is a boutique story agency, fuelled by creatives, artists and changemakers. We help humans and organisations discover the value and power of their own stories – and the stories they are making with others.
It all started back in 2005 when Moya Sayer-Jones was sitting at a wobbly trestle table in a new house in a new town. She was doodling ideas. At this time, Moya was still mainly known for her comedy writing for TV and print but now she was itching to make a leap to something different. She just didn’t know what.
She remembers playing around that day with a funny list celebrating everyday human flaws. The list was inspired by a famous 1960’s cartoon series called Love Is..
The most famous Love Is cartoon was ‘Love Is… never having to say you’re sorry’
Moya’s first entry on her own list was a slightly less sentimental version: ‘Only Human is… never wanting to say you’re sorry!’
Before she knew it, her ‘only human is…’ list was almost writing itself. It was emerging as an unapologetic register of human imperfections, yearnings and loveable missteps. Within an hour, Moya was online, googling for a domain name and onlyhuman.com.au was born.
When Moya’s partner, Ross Nobel, came home that day, he grabbed the envelope of an unopened bill and interpreted her excitement about a company designed to bring people together through their real stories.
‘You mean, like this?’ he asked. Almost 20 years later, this exact fun drawing of respecting our differences still graces our office wall. It reminds us of how we came to be and why we’re still here.
Over the years, we’ve created all sorts of spaces and inspirations for people to show up exactly as they are – perfectly imperfect – and connect through their real stories to each other with the power of sharing what they know, believe and understand.
I started by telling stories to my dog … and she was an excellent listener.
That was long ago in the 1970s when I’d run home from school and head straight for the back door. Sally the dog would be waiting there on the garden step and I’d throw myself down beside her, wrap my arms around her neck, and pour my heart out. I told her everything.
She was amazing. She’d sit focused totally on me. What an audience! Sally was captivated by my stories of triumph and failure; of the mean girls and the good girls and all the adventures in between.
And it was under her loving gaze, that I learnt the power of storytelling – not just to share with others – but for myself.
Later, my diary and my best girlfriends became my listeners. And then when I started writing professionally, my columns and novels introduced me to readers and listeners in Australia and around the world.
For almost two decades, I luxuriated in writing comedy for TV, print and theatre and loved the gift of being invited to share the way I saw and experienced the world.
And then, twenty years ago things changed. I wrote my first non-fiction book, a collection of stories about families suffering disadvantage, told in their own words.
And now it was me listening in gardens and kitchens and lounge rooms all over Australia. I was hooked. I moved from telling my own stories to helping others tell theirs.
That project convinced me of the power of real stories for audience and storytellers alike. It was amazing, wondrous.
And that’s how Only Human Stories was born. My thinking being that anything that makes so many people feel so valued and so ready to act, has to be good.
And it is!
Moya first career was as a funny novelist, columnist and screenwriter. Her books have been published in Australia and internationally and a playground for her interest in the unpredictability and loveability of human behaviour. She wrote her first book, Little Sister, as a memoir (with creative licence!) about growing up in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. Little Sister is considered an Australian classic.
Moya wrote regular humorous columns for many of Australia’s main newspapers and magazines. Moya was the original Modern Guru in the Good Weekend (SMH / The Age), a television writer (ABC), playwright (Plumbers Opera / Kissing Frogs) and TV presenter.
Her non-fiction books and films include story collections for the arts / health / welfare and community sectors.
Little Sister – Allen and Unwin
Mouth to Mouth – Penguin
Love Rat – Penguin
Who Loves Lucy – Penguin
Non-Fiction – Story Collections
All our story collections feature strengths-based, verbatim stories gathered with best practice processes that benefit the organisations and the storytellers equally.
They – Family stories – Social Justice
In My Life – Family stories – addiction
Inspiring not Retiring – Older Australians
Beyond the Call – PTSD / Service People
Another Day – People experiencing Schizophrenia
Home Free – Stories from Women who have Found Safety from Domestic Violence
Big Story Country – Australia’s top arts projects
Seeded – Arts Health stories from Australia
Someone Like Me – Stories from Foster Parents
Come Together – Stories from Young Mums
With Open Arms – Stories / Inclusive Communities
With Open Hearts – How to Create Inclusive Communities (Stories)