For over a decade, my primary means of getting my stories out to people hasn’t been publication. It’s been doing readings — standing up in front of a crowd and reading them aloud, performing each character. The first time was at a private event, telling a ghost story I’d written for a Halloween party, but that was so well-received I soon found myself seeking audiences at conventions and coffee shops.
When I started, the intention was to work on getting my stories published — the readings were only meant to be a way to publicize my writing and build an audience. Somewhere along the line, that intention fell by the wayside. My interest, my enthusiasm, was all geared toward doing the readings. Mailing my stories out to editors and waiting weeks or months for a response just didn’t have the same immediacy I felt performing for an audience. It lacked the thrill of getting a reaction in real time, watching people’s faces, waiting for those widened eyes, that inrush of held breath.
It’s done a lot for the quality of my writing. It’s incredibly helpful to get that kind of group feedback, to see right away which phrases work and which ones don’t, to be able to tell when the pacing of a story is lagging by noticing the room growing restless. Doing the readings has also forced me to pay more attention to the sound of my writing, to how well the words flow together, to rhythm and meter, assonance and sibilance.
I’ve had other writers ask me on occasion how they can get started doing readings, and it’s easier than you might think. Find out where readings are happening in your city, then just go to the venues and introduce yourself, tell them what you do, and ask how you can get on their schedule. That’s really all there is to it.
I’ve started to get my work out there in print form, and as electronic publications, but believe me, I’m going to continue doing readings for years to come. You can check back here, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook, to find out when the next one will be. Hope to see you soon.
Saturday, October 23rd, 1999
at Aurafice Internet Cafe
An unreliable narrator, MICHAEL MONTOURE ( email@example.com )
is an indie writer of horror and dark urban
obsessions include hidden truths, secret dealings, and the changing and
fragile nature of our own pasts. He is known as much for his
spoken-word performances of his fiction at Seattle coffeehouses and
conventions as for the stories themselves. Currently working as a writer
and producer of the webseries Causality, he lives alone with
a gray cat by the edge of Echo Lake, Washington. ( Twitter / Facebook