I’ve been invited to read my short story, Bibi’s Tree, a couple of times before but I’ve never been able to make the journey. (The first time was in Greenmount, WA and the second time was in Melbourne.) So when I was asked to be part of QWC’s Whispers event I knew what story I had to read.
But it’s not the story that’s got me thinking. It’s the reading out loud part.
I’ve always thought that there was something special about a writer reading their work out loud. I love hearing words that would usually only live in one person’s imagination while they’re curled up on the couch. And I’ve enjoyed watching friends of mine read at their book launches and discovering how the story sounds in their heads.
To discover that in my own work was just as exciting.
I’ve known for a while that tapping away at a computer isn’t enough for the storyteller in me. I need to be actively sharing stories and connecting with people. As a drama student who transferred in to creative writing at uni, I guess this shouldn’t have been a surprise. Except that I had neglected that side of myself for so long – unsure how it could fit in this new writing direction – that I forgot how important it is to me.
It’s thrilling to have an audience in front of you, wanting to hear your story. To read your own words and listen to the stillness around you. Or to glance above the pages and take in how people are reacting to your creation.
I remember reading the beginning of a manuscript in a writer’s group meet. It was a tense scene that I enjoyed writing and re-writing and as I read it out loud I felt the energy change. There were no squeals of discomfort and no one was wringing their hands together but there was a slight shift in the mood. For me, that feeling had weight. As though the world had stopped still and we were all tumbling down the rabbit hole in slow motion.
That’s why performing or reading out loud is exciting for me. That energy change is the audience saying, ‘Yep. Take me with you’. They don’t have the time to put the bookmark in and get back to it and it’s too personal for them to pretend they like it if they really don’t. (Trust me on that one.)
So as much as I love retreating in to my own imagination and writing new stories, there will always be part of me that needs to tell it to you the old-fashioned way. Face-to-face.