Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Read It Loud, Read It Proud

Last Wednesday night, I did something crazy.

Ok, well, maybe not so crazy, but crazy for me. I read at an open mic event for stories that were three minutes or less.


This was nothing like the readings I do at meetings for my prompt-based writing group. There everyone reads what they wrote in the time allotted for the prompts in a warm, fuzzy, high-fiving atmosphere.

The open mic was different. There was a microphone for one thing. And a recorder. And a timer. Scores of plastic folding chairs. And the oddest assortment of people – young, old, handicapped, MFA students, creative type townies… Oh, and me.

People were supportive of one another, but the stench of competition was in the air as well. You see, after everyone reads, attendees vote for their favorites. The recordings for the top three stories would then be archived online for all time’s sake. And the writers were hungry to share, to read, and, most importantly, to win.

I was hungry too, but in a different way. The open mic is a monthly thing, and I had been wanting to go since the start of the summer. However, real life conspired against me (buying a house, moving, houseguests, general disarray). Finally (finally!) the stars aligned and I was able to attend this month’s meeting.

My goals were only to read my story in three minutes or less and not goof up. Both of which I achieved. This month's winners haven't been announced yet, but that's ok. I'm just happy I went. I’m pretty sure I read at a reasonable pace and paused at the appropriate places. It was nerve-wracking and exhilarating all at once. I’m grateful it’s over, but I’m also glad I did it. And I’m positive if I had not been used to reading my work at writing group, my open mic attempt would be an epic fail.

Coincidentally, a recent post on the Guide to Literary Agents blog talked about public readings. As the author says:
"Each time I read, I explore my own text, emphasize words differently and take chances on intonation and pacing. I’ve absorbed silence and learned to pause when the belly laughs were so loud and long, even I had to chuckle at my own writing.”

This kind of immersion is so helpful in evaluating your own work, which must be why so many writers advocate reading your stuff aloud when you are revising.

I’m not sure I’ll be going to the open mic next month. Despite the obvious benefits, the whole process can be a bit stressful. But if I were to go, I am already thinking about what I would read. Theoretically, of course :)

5 comments:

Kelly R. Morgan said...

Kudos to you! Especially with the pressure of knowing you're being judged up there.

I haven't gotten up enough nerve yet to read something for my writer's group so I'm in awe when I hear and see people doing things like this =)

KB Lawrence said...

Wow! Very brave. Did the audience response affect how you felt about the piece?

Laura Marcella said...

Wow, that's awesome! Good for you! I don't think I could do that. Public speaking is scary for me, and it terrifies me more when I have to read something I wrote myself. I say keep it up! It'll give you practice for some day when you're reading your novel aloud to thousands at a book signing! :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

WTG! That takes courage!

Denise Nielsen said...

Must have been a wonderful experience. I would love to do something like that one day - maybe when my own stars align...a new local coffee house just started open mic, so maybe it's a sign.

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