Thanks to the Victoria Writers' Society for the opportunity to read at the 16th annual Look Show, put on by the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria.
I'm grateful for the invitation to read on two occasions, March 6 and 13, 2015.
The experience gave me real insight into the power of one of my pieces. "Marathon to Perfection" really gripped the audience; I could feel them holding their breath.
This is the last week of the show and the last opportunity for writers to share their work in a public venue. I encourage local writers to sign up!
For those of you who have never attended a reading, as either reader or audience member, I thought I would also share a few simple rules of etiquette.
1) Remember that readers are nervous. For many, it's the first time they are reading their work in public or the first time a particular piece has been shared with others. Show encouragement by smiling and actively listening to them read.
2) Polite applause after the reading is appreciated. You don't have to like the genre or the story itself to appreciate their work and courage in standing before a crowd. Every reader deserves a round of applause.
3) Keep down the chatter. It can throw a reader off to hear people talking while they're reading.
4) For readers, follow the time guidelines set out. Practice reading your piece in advance so you can time yourself. Then keep within the time limit given. If you hear rustling, it's a sure sign you've gone past your time.
5) Practice at home! Stand up and hold your writing in front of you and occasionally look up at a picture or out the window to switch your focus as you read the whole piece you will be sharing. Breathe. Relax. Check your cadence. And then practice it at least once more before you go.
6) Have your materials ready when you arrive. Take off your coat and get comfortable. Sip some water if your mouth becomes dry. Prepare for the reading by giving yourself enough time to enjoy at least one or two other readers before your turn. It helps calm your nerves if you can get lost in their stories.
7) Whether audience member or fellow reader, tell someone if you liked their piece. Say how it made you feel or congratulate them on writing a warm, funny or suspenseful story.
I watched a slam poet perform her piece with such energy and fire, and I laughed along with a non-fiction writer who turned a sad story into a funny anecdote. I heard science-fiction and good old fashioned suspense tales. The readings showcased the diverse talent of local writers on Vancouver Island. I couldn't have asked for more.