In my career, I have done a number of readings, mostly portions of my memoir Accidental Lessons. But recently I have been expanding, exploring my storytelling and have been taking part in a couple of Story Club events, along with a event called Essay Fiesta later this month. (April 18th at the Book Cellar in Chicago, 7pm)
Last night I was at Uncommon Ground in the Wrigleyville neighborhood to read a story (First Date) from my new manuscript, Ghost Boxing.
But this is really beside the point.
Here is the real point…
The storytelling community in Chicago, and elsewhere, is really rockin’. There are over six storytelling groups (and probably more that I don’t know about) in the city of Chicago, giving writers of all levels a chance to put their material out in front of an audience. If you have never done this before, try it. Make sure you work your “print” story for the “ear” and practice your stage presence. There is no need to be intimidated. There are plenty of first timers, people honing their craft, and learning to shape their stories. But there are also some brilliant performers from which to learn.
The genre – telling a story in front of an audience – is not like a traditional “reading” for an author. Oh sure, you can “read” the work – in fact, I would encourage NOT trying to do it off the cuff or by memory – but learn to bring that story alive with pauses, pace changing, vocal emphasis, whispers, yells, and living dialogue.
One of the more well-known events is The Moth, which is also a public radio show and quite popular. But Story Club, which I have been involved with lately, is wonderfully run and professionally handled. Another up and comer is This Much is True.
I encourage you, if you’re a writer, take in an event, see what it’s like, and then get out there. Plenty of open-mic opportunities exist. It is a superb way to get immediate feedback on your work. And, needless to say, tons of fun!
Actively reading aloud,