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The Inner Loop reading series

I had a great evening under twilit stars – and frequent, seemingly aimless helicopters –  with The Inner Loop, a monthly DC reading series for poetry, fiction and non-fiction writers, at Colony Club. The headliner was Jennifer Atkinson, a poet drawn to human disaster, with readings by Joel Goldberg, Matthew Moniz, Alyssa Oursler, Alex Aronovich, Peg Alford Pursell, Alan C. Page, Leila Rafei and Sam Mahone.

Standing room only!

       

I’m firmly in the camp that writing is an art for the ear. Studying other languages’ poetry let me hear the latent music in my own writing. I always want my work to sound good aloud and I love to hear other authors reading. It’s a happy time for this viewpoint, with the growing market, and quality, of podcasts and audiobooks. I’ll be fascinated to see how English prose style changes for a world where most of it is heard not read. (Prediction? Dialogue tags will lose “said.”)

The evening had a warm, friendly feel. I talked shop with other writers, books with readers. A writing event is quieter than a band, with no dancing or chatter and surprisingly little phone use other than recording videos. The vibe remains casual and attentive. Even for the writers – 5 minutes, and you’re back in the audience.

There will be a bigger market for these. Already the Moth series has spread to live events in several cities. Reading for performance will be the new penmanship.


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Catching up to success and building on it

For the last month now, what writing time I’ve had all belonged to my new serial novel. I regret losing energy both on social media and on my first novel, but I can return to them. The experience of the serial is unusual and worthy of attention. By starting this in partnership with a media provider and basing it in the history of my own neighborhood, I had wonderful resources to draw on. The Forest Hills Connection organized a history lecture and reading, and the Northwest Current printed an op-ed about the history behind the novel. It was a huge privilege to start off strong, and a great leap of faith on the part of my media partners. I am lucky and grateful.

I am still writing weekly, but it’s leveling off its ascent so I can get the other parts of my booklife in working order. I’m hoping that my quick bath in media will give me a new way to look at my first novel. The style is still fresh but my approach to selling it is tired. To get past the exhausted ADD TL;DR eyes of the publishing community, I have to dance around the complicated mixed-genre and real world elements, and the flawed less-than-heroic characters, that were the things which most interested me as a writer. The people who are my audience are maybe not the people who make a living selling many books to publishers. Self-publication in this light is like touring is for a band, a way to get the word out and find an audience. It would be a huge effort that looks very scary now, and not something I can enter into seriously before the fall.

Put another way, though, every special event I got for the launch of Scientists was a missed opportunity to market my self-published novel in a public forum. As the serial proceeds and gets more attention, there are more opportunities. This is not a reason to rush an unfinished book to printing, but it is a reason to hurry an unfinished book to finishing.