A Shaky Reading

On Sunday afternoon I went to a poetry reading. When I stood up to do my thing, Both my voice and knees began to shake.

What was going on? I performed as a storyteller every day in the school library for seven years. Then I remembered. That was thirty years, almost a lifetime, ago.

We all live so many lives. (I know if I walked up to my younger self, I’d scare the pants off her.)

The poem I botched on Sunday was from a sequence of dramatic monologues I wrote when we were living in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Yes, LA does have distinct neighborhoods. I’ll tell you more about them another time.)

I composed the piece in the late eighties or early nineties for a group of actors who teamed up with the Arroyo Arts Collective to do cold readings of local authors’ poems, short stories, and novel excerpts. The title was “The Marriage Bed.”

Mostly invented, the sequence drew on things that happened even earlier in my life, in the mid-sixties.

I was nineteen. I’d just run away and married my husband, a guy I’d dated a month.

On our first morning together the phone rang. One of my husband’s friends, Jim Ashley, lived in Ouray, a tiny nineteenth-century mining town in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. He worked for the Idorado Mine, the village’s economic engine.

The afternoon before, Jim had stepped on a rotten board just inside the mine entrance and plummeted down through a dark vertical tunnel all the way from the Red Mountain entrance to the Telluride entrance, hundreds of feet.

I didn’t know Jim, but that secondhand experience drilled itself into my mind. Every so often I fall into it, just as I did on Sunday.

There was one more layer to my shaky reading. After its first, last, and only cold performance by the Arroyo Arts Collective players, “The Marriage Bed” disappeared into my files. I made a few half-hearted attempts to send it out, but knew it was destined to be one of those things I did just for myself. (There are a LOT of those.)

Then I saw a call for an anthology in Coda (which later became Poets and Writers.) It was for ghost poems. The voice in one of the monologues in The Marriage Bed, “Frank,” was a ghost, the long-dead father of the husband in the story.   I sent it.

It was accepted. I’d forgotten about the book, Ghost of a Chance,  until Sunday. Looking at it, I was amazed. There I was, hired-gun ed writer, with Rita Dove, Billy Collins, and others famous for their poetry.

Then I remembered, huddling in the back seat of my dad’s ’41 Chevy, playing with the sounds of words. I must have been two or three.

We live so many lives. So many layered lives. Sharing them with others can be a shaky experience, but we only have the stage for a few minutes, so why not?

 

 

 

From Jonathan Gunson: How to Stop Fiddling and Finish That Book

Here’s some great advice about overcoming fear and rediscovering the joy of writing.

How To Beat Writer’s Block Forever | Bestseller Labs.

The Only Person Like Him in the Whole Wide World

Here’s an author who has built a career on his very unique background and his amazing special interest. (I discovered him on Twitter this morning.) What is your unique set of interests? How can you share it in your books?

Amazon.com: Teodor Flonta: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle.

Emotional Connection: The Writer’s Holy Grail

If your story does not touch the emotions of your reader in some way, it will not last. In order for this to happen, it has to be important, emotionally, to you. Here’s a great post about how to make that happen.

Click on the link below:

What is the Emotional Investment in Your Stories?.

AllAtOnce

Here’s a loosening up guide I wrote for artists. With a little imagination, its principles apply to writers too. Its purpose is to give creators permission to access original material by temporarily suspending judgment.

A spiritual teacher once advised students to “work, but let go of the results.”

The free online guide will help you understand what this means. Click on the link. Each set of exercises is short, but they might help you find the work you are to do that nobody else can do–work that is not “like” someone else’s. Sound scary? It is, sort of, but you will astonish yourself.

AllAtOnce.

PiBoIdMo Day 2: Robert Weinstock’s Terminal Condition: Beginning « Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Here’s a post that’s sure to inspire any literary or visual artist. It was written for picture book people, but it’s great for painters and novelists, too.

PiBoIdMo Day 2: Robert Weinstock’s Terminal Condition: Beginning « Writing for Kids (While Raising Them).