Here's something I know about myself: I'm a good organizer when I put my mind to it, and one way I occasionally put that talent to good use is when I create an event — say, a Writing Salon party or reading. If it's a reading, I have great confidence in my ability to find and choose good writers who will read well written, entertaining, provocative, honest pieces of work, whatever the genre. (Don't ask me where this confidence comes from or whether I think I deserve to have it. All I know is, I do have it.)
Often I will give the readers my opinion as to what they should read; I might even request (or demand) a specific piece. I do this because I've found that many excellent writers fall apart when asked to read in public, and if left to their own devices will choose their most inferior work to share with others. Weird.
Or maybe not so weird. I have a theory about it. I think that most
beginning to intermediate writers (and sometimes even more experienced
ones) will opt to read work that they think is more "polished" and
"literary." They overlook the work that, although it may still be raw
and not yet shaped into its final, gem-like completion, is powerful
BECAUSE it's so raw...so honest, so full of the writer's natural,
unedited, authentic "voice" and story.
But if someone else organizes a reading and invites ME to read MY work, I forget all about my tidy theory. I panic because I realize that I have nothing whatsoever that's good enough to read, just as I have nothing at all to wear. I force myself to go back through old, perpetually unfinished pieces of writing, in search of one that is somehow, at least, more polished and literary.
That's what I did, at first, in preparation for a reading that I'm participating in this Wednesday evening. Here's the press release info. about the reading:
Morbid Curiosity vs. Breast Cancer
Join conspirators to Morbid Curiosity magazine on Wednesday, June 27, at 7 p.m. as they read new and previously published nonfiction to raise money for the fight against breast cancer. The reading will take place at Borderlands Books, 866 Valencia Street, San Francisco. More info: 415-824-8203.
Participants in the reading include Jane Underwood, founder of The Writing Salon and a breast cancer survivor; Gravity Goldberg, co- editor of Instant City; Mary Ann Stein; and Jeff Dauber, who will read a true story about breast cancer in men.
The evening will feature a raffle of Morbid Curiosity apparel, rare books, and more.
For the second year in a row, Morbid Curiosity editor Loren Rhoads is doing the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer -- 39.3 miles in a weekend -- to raise funding for research, screening, and treatment of victims of the disease right here in the Bay Area.
People who can't attend the event can still support the cause by going HERE.
Anyway, after I chose a more polished and literary piece of writing (you know, brimming over with my prettiest, most lyrical language), I got an email from Loren telling me that she'd just re-read some of my earliest blog entries from back when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, and that she found them "powerful," and she liked how honest they were. I wrote back and said, "Which ones? Please tell me which ones, because I have no idea what to read!" (What I didn't say but thought was, What ever made me think I could call myself a writer? All these years, all this effort, and what do I have to show for it? NOTHING!) She wrote back and named three or four blog post titles that I never would have expected her to name because they were so unpolished and unliterary, so RAW. But yeah, I guess, honest.
Duh. So. . . today I'm going back and re-reading some of those posts, and I'll pick out a few, and that's what I'll read on Wednesday night. Raw blog entries about a raw time. Sound appealing? Ha ha. If so, please come to the reading.