Open Mike Night: Thoughts from the Morning After

As promised, here’s my report on Open Mike night for my writer’s group. Now, I should explain that my writer’s group isn’t, I don’t believe, typical. We don’t read to each other, or critique each others’ work. What we have is a space to write, coffee, tea, water and wi-fi provided, and a ‘den mother’ who strictly maintains the ‘no conversation, no phones’ rules.

So while we (mostly) recognize each other, we have no idea what anyone else is working on. So this yearly open-mike night is a chance to get to know each other a bit, as well as read our work. We started with drinks and munchies and conversation, and after half an hour or so of that, our ‘den mother’ got us started. I volunteered to read first, since that meant, firstly, I got it over with, and secondly, that I could then really listen to other work, instead of being nervous about my own reading.

Lights in the face, can’t see the room (this is good); my voice wavering a little at first but then steadying. I read my piece – an excerpt from Reverse Migration, chosen by all of you who voted here or on Twitter or privately e-mailed me. It sounds good, the words strong and flowing. The applause is hearty, more than polite, I think. And I don’t fall down (or up) the stairs.

About ten or twelve people read: award winning authors who make a living at this, and aspiring authors, some of whom read their rejection letters. Poems, short stories, self-help, memoir. A room full of talent, from twenty-something to seventy-something. Supportive, encouraging, genuinely interested in what each other is writing. Nice people. And now we know each other all a bit better.

Thanks to everyone who voted, and to those of you who asked for a report. The world is a better place when we listen to each others’ voices.

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