Wednesday, June 26, 2019

he Beat Goes On In Davidson

I spent 90 minutes at Main Street Books in Davidson last night with two dozen other writers and guests. The event was an open reading the bookstore calls "The Beat Goes On." The readings ranged the gamut from deeply personal poems to lighthearted children's stories to a fractured fairy tale. For my part, I read "A Hard and Threatening Place," a short story from my first published collection, The Bug Jar and Other Stories. I often open my events with this piece because it is short, first-person and has a little kick at the end that typically gets an audience reaction.

Writing can be a solitary avocation; hours and hours spent alone in one's own mind. We alternately fall in love with our own work and underestimate our own abilities. Sometimes we need a reality check (this isn't that good) and sometimes we need a boost (this isn't as bad as you think). I've been cultivating my relationship with Main Street Books and the Main Street Writers group as a way to help me stay on track. It has been an interesting experience, so far. Writers, and I'm ABSOLUTELY including myself, can be a quirky lot. We have our own way of doing things; our own way of thinking about things.

When it comes to writing, I tend to think of myself as more of a craftsman than an artist. Most of my work is nonfiction, which lends itself better to being crafted than to being created. It is clear to me now that other members of the group take a different approach. And that's fine. Being exposed to other styles and other ways of looking at the written word can only help me. Some of the more flowery, NPR-worthy poetry goes right over my head, but I can respect the evocativeness of it. The deeply confessional personal stories might make me a little uncomfortable, but you know what... I often confess the same things; I just wrap them in a layer of horror or humor that provides a measure of distance. To that point, "A Hard and Threatening Place" isn't really fiction. The events of that story actually happened almost exactly as portrayed. Fictionalizing it the way I have, though, allows me a little catharsis in describing what was for me "those terrible junior high years."

At my readings, I often describe myself as a "bar band" writer. I'm not (very) delusional. I understand that I am not, and never will be, Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, in the same way that those guys playing Saturday nights at Primal Brewery aren't ever going to be Bruce Springsteen or Aerosmith. But I can produce entertaining and informative work and maybe make a few dollars here and there doing it. If I can accomplish that, I will consider my writing "career" a fantastic success.

I will be signing copies of my new book, Ocean of Storms, at Main Street Books from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 20th. If you are in the area, come on out!            

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