A Great Reading

So yesterday evening Jim and I headed downtown to the University Bookstore to do a reading. I was nervous for a day or two leading up to the event, and kind of twitchy-stressed. I’ve never done this before, I was worried no one would show up, I wondered if anyone would like my work, or whether I’d verbally stumble my way through a horrible performance. You know, the usual newbie-nerves one gets about pretty much anything taking place in the public eye.

Our reading time had been cut down by a few minutes, so I spent Wednesday finding a scene that’d work — something that stands sort of alone, was interesting, and was short enough. I picked an early-ish scene from A Hidden Magic and cut some bits out of it, a few words here, a line or two there. When I was pretty sure I had something that’d work, I printed it out, because I’ve noticed at other people’s readings that writers who read from print-outs looked more comfortable than writers who read from books.

Tracy, who organized the event as part of the Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up in September, was there, along with some people from Old Growth Northwest, which is partnering to put on the meet-up. Tracy’d warned us that traffic was awful in the early evening, so we all got there early and hung out until the start. Chatting with Astrid Amara, Ginn Hale and Laylah Hunter was fun. None of us had ever done a reading before, and we were joking around about whether all of us could fit under the draped table, and just pass the mics back and forth without having to be, like, right there in front of the audience. Because writers tend to be hermit-ish, and that was certainly true of all four of us. O_O

Once it got going, though, it was great fun, and I wasn’t nervous anymore, anticipation being worse than the actuality and all that. The bookstore had set up a table and chairs for us, so we sat there in a row the whole time rather than having to shuttle up to a podium or whatever, and there were a couple of mics we ended up ignoring because we didn’t need them. There were probably about thirty-some people in the audience, which filled most of the chairs, with a few people standing around the edges or sitting on the floor. I enjoyed the other readings, and when it was my turn, I was glad I’d printed out my scene; not having to use both hands to keep the book open was nice.

Doing the reading was fun, and I managed not to stumble too badly. 🙂 Once I got going it just flowed, and the line about the goblin wearing a “Tolkien Sucks” T-shirt got a great laugh. I wrapped up and got some nice applause, which was pretty awesome.

There was a lively Q&A session after the readings. We talked about where we get ideas (of course — I think it’s illegal to have an event featuring writers without that being discussed) and whether we outline or not (I was the sole dedicated pantser in the group). One person asked whether where we started was always the actual beginning of the story, which was an interesting question. My beginnings usually stay my beginnings, except when I’m writing SF. I tend to do a lot of worldbuilding right there in the first few pages, and I do a lot of cut/pasting into another file as I pull the blathering out of the story, before the real beginning of the story shows up.

One young man thanked us for helping to queer SF, which was great. And yeah, that’s part of the point. Writing queer characters in fiction helps normalize queerness, if only a little. People who know queer or GLBT people are less likely to be homophobic than people who don’t (or do but don’t know it). I can’t go around introducting folks to actual GLBT people in realspace, but putting queer characters into fiction, treated just like any other characters who have problems to solve and worlds to save, who go on adventures and kick butt on the villains and get the guy or girl of their dreams? That has to help, at least some, and that I can do.

When the Q&A was over, I signed some books and then the event broke up.

Thanks to Tracy and the Old Growth folks, and the U Bookstore for putting on the event, to Astrid, Ginn and Laylah for plotting to hide under the table with me, and to everyone who came out to hear us. I had a great time, and am very much looking forward to the meet-up in September.


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Angela Benedetti lives in Seattle with her husband and a few thousand books. She loves romance for the happy endings, for the affirmation that everyone who's willing to fight for love deserves to get it and be happy with someone. She's best known for her Sentinel series of novels, the most recent of which is Captive Magic.