Our local library sponsors a writers' collective and this week, some members of the collective participated in a public reading of their work. The event was promoted in the library's magazine, In Touch, which is available free at all the libraries in the system and online. Most of the people who attended, including me, had some connection with the writers. However, at least some folk attended out of curiosity. You know the kind - what do those fiction writer critters look like in real life, and what do they produce? And, I bet I could do it better, if I had time.
I spoke with one such person after the reading, well, really, she accosted me. I guess she needed someone to hear her opinion and I was a slow moving target.
"Wasn't (name omitted) awful?" She asked.
"Some writers have trouble presenting their work," I replied.
That didn't satisfy her and she went to to say a few more uncomplimentary things. (I don't personally know the writer she was referring to, but felt I had to defend the writer, even though I partly agreed with the criticism.)
"Every one's taste is different," I said. Yeah, that was lame, but it did end the conversation, or else it ended because we were at the front door by then.
On the way home, I thought about the encounter a bit more. Not every writer is good at reading aloud in front of a group. It's not an easy thing to do. Some people have a flair for the dramatic and can make prose that wouldn't impress me a great deal if I was reading it on the page, sound more interesting that it truly is. It's good to have that talent because these days, published writers have to do more promotion than ever. The ability to put on a decent dog and pony show helps sales. It's hard for most writers though, or so I imagine. I do know it was difficult for me, and I've only done it once, so far. The audience I spoke to had paid to hear the writers spout off on different topics they claimed to know something about and read from their work. It was more than a little bit terrifying. Would they like my words or hate them? Would they throw things? Would they slink away and say nothing at all? Fortunately, terror helped me do a reasonable job. I'm sure that isn't the case for every writer and I have no idea whether I will be able to do it again, if the opportunity arises.
It's often hard to be one of them thar fiction writer critters. We're strange. We have egos that expand and shrink on a regular basis, maybe with the cycles of the moon, maybe not. We know everyone has a story but not everyone has a compulsion to tell stories. One is calling for me now. I'd better go and write it.