by Bethany Maines
Like the Olympics author readings are cause for applause (from the audience), tears (usually from the author over their story), and gasps of surprise (like when someone literally falls out of their chair). Unlike the Olympics, these events usually go better with alcohol.
I recently participated in Noir at the Bar Seattle a quarterly reading event that brings together a variety of authors to share their work. The entire purpose of the evening is to delight the audience with tales of crime, murder and debauchery. And the latest event was no exception. From serial killing teenagers to con men and a very threatening masseuse each tale took the listeners down a different dark alley. Located at the aptly named Alibi Room at Seattle’s Pike place market (near the gum wall, for those who have been) the venue provided excellent atmosphere.
I enjoy the opportunity to read in public, but this wasn’t always the case. It’s nerve wracking to reveal any artistic work to the judgement of the public, but then having to be the vehicle for that art, whether it’s dance or some other type performance, puts the judgement not just on the work itself, but on the performer. Or in other words, you’re all staring at meeeeeeeee!
What has helped me is to realize that the act of reading is separate from the story itself. I can have the perfect story, but if I biff the performance then no one will know. In order to present my beautiful baby story to the world in the best way I must ovary up and give it a proper introduction. Fortunately, my introduction for Tammy Loves Derek, a happy-go-lucky tale of gold-digging and revenge went well. Perhaps in the future I will be able to find it a nice publication to match it up with. But I will definitely be looking forward to the next opportunity to share my words with an audience.