Reading vs. Writing

by Bethany Maines On Monday night fellow Stiletto author J.M. Phillippe (visiting from Brooklyn) and I attended the local open mic night from Creative Colloquy.  The evening celebrated Creative Colloquy’s third anniversary and featured the Washington State poet laureate Dr. Tod Marshall. Creative Colloquy’s mission is to connect writers with their community and celebrate their works. And in keeping with that mission, Dr. Marshall reminded us in the audience to both battle for the arts and to rejoice in our creative communities. As with every time I go to a reading event I'm struck by what different skills reading and writing are. It's difficult to differentiate the presentation from the work being presented. For every rushed reading, there’s one that gives space for the audience to savor the moment. For every mumbled poem, there’s one that echoes from the rafters.  For every awkward and misplaced laugh in the middle of a story, there's one that ought to be a comedy special.  Delivery, timing, and pronunciation, all take a reading from blah to amazing.  Or at least important enough to make people stop talking to their friends at the table.  Are the amazing readings better?  Or just benefitting from better delivery? It makes me wonder: what could I be doing to present my own work better in live readings? Should we authors all be forced to take public speaking classes? Improv classes? Should we be forced to listen to recordings of ourselves (God nooooooooooo!!!)?  Is there a secret trick that I could be using?  What if I just I hire an actor to read for me?  In all probability I shall simply have to rely on the very exclusive, top secret trick of practice and repetition.  As long as no one makes me watch a recording of it, that will probably be fine.