Friday, October 12, 2012

What I learned from the readings I went to at the ODU lit festival.

What I learned about being a writer from Dorainne Laux and Sheri Reynolds.
The reading by Dorianne Laux was inspiring and invigorating. She spoke about poetry as some would refer to a lover or dear friend. He ability to transfer her enthusiasm for poetry to those of us listening was incredible. I used to think I wasn’t into poetry, too much purple prose and hidden messages to dissect. However, with each poet I’ve listened to in the past few months I find myself intrigued in different ways. Some spoken word has made me sit up and pay attention, or moved me to tears because it was so powerful.
Dorianne’s poetry choices and the way she recited them had us all leaning closer. Not just because the cadence of her voice ebbed and flowed, but because you became so engaged in what she was saying and the genuine affection she feels towards these pieces. I found myself wanting to try my hand at writing in prose. I’ve never considered myself a poet, nor have I thought of myself as being particularly lyrical. However, Dorianne reminded us that there is music in everything. You can use music to define a character the same way you can use syntax.
She talked about arch building, although I think of it more like an infinity symbol. The connection between the gut, the heart, the mind; it’s all a continuous loop. If you can get someone thinking or feeling through your writing you’ve connected with them in a tangible way. She talked about how syllables work through the telling of emotions. How short clipped words with hard consonants can show more emphatically than the words themselves.
There were so many things that she spoke about that I will try incorporating into my own writing, but one thing in particular I will be working on immediately. She said if you focus too much on narrative you can lose flow. She suggested practicing with structure and vice versa to strengthen your writing. You want to incorporate the musicality of language into your work. Finally, though she said these were the three elements needed for poetry I think they are necessary for fiction too; the physical, the intellectual, and the personal. If your work has these elements, your work will resonate.
The other reading I went to was by Sheri Reynolds. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this since she wasn’t here for a poetry reading. I walked in and she was already reading from her book, The Homespun Wisdom of Myrtle T. Cribb. From the moment the words left her smiling mouth, in a true Eastern Shore cadence I was entranced. I stood until my back was aching and my feet were on fire from standing at an odd angle so as not to block anyone else’s view. But it was worth it. It was so worth it.
I was prepared to smile and nod throughout since she’s my professor and I respect her immensely, but I don’t like this genre. However, there was no need for my fear of nodding. She was engaging and the story sucked you right in. I was laughing and couldn’t wait to hear the next step in Myrtle’s adventure.
I think the thing I learned the most from this reading is that I’ve been too closed minded about what I’ve been reading. I also think that if I’m lucky enough to get a contract and get published I need to do as many readings as possible. She made these characters come to life and I wanted to know their story. If I hadn’t come to the reading I might never have known the delightfully homespun musings of a housewife because I would have been stuck in my science fiction/fantasy books. I loved Myrtle and want to know the rest of her story.
The only question I have is what to call this book. I’m calling it a second person self-help novel. It is so unique and an absolute delight. I want to write a story that can sway readers from other genres to try out my genre too.
The overall impressions I left with were that I not only want to be an author, I want to be an inspiration. 

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