Reading went well. Read the story, "Camera Shy," that I read in Portland to a lot of laughter, which was sort of weird at the time because it’s not supposed to be that funny, but I was glad that people were enjoying it. When I read it on Friday, nothing, not one laugh. My brother, in the audience, said people were listening, following it, liking it. Interesting to get two totally different reactions to a story. The venue was a theatre with lights in your face so you couldn’t see the audience, not even silhouettes. Up on an actual stage. Spent the show in the green room talking to the other writers, mostly stand-up comics. And Antoine Wilson, who was nice enough to give me his copy of A Public Space and happens to be married to a girl I went to elementary school with. So it was a class reunion too, which was enough to kill me with nerves, but I enjoyed myself. I liked doing the reading cause I like the story. So far it’s been rejected by Tin House, Eclectica, Land Grant, and The Paris Review. They’re all wrong.
I was a bit wary of the show because it was billed as a comedy night. I didn’t want to follow someone who just brought down the house. My writing isn’t humorless, but I’m no comedy writer. In fact, it kind of bugs me when writers go for laughs, or art house laughter when people laugh at something that’s not funny at all. I remember going to Cassavetes' "A Woman Under the Influence." She’s drunk and dragging her kid upstairs, tragic and sad, but still frenetic, and the kid makes a funny face, and the crowd erupted in laughter. Nervous laughter, maybe, but still annoying. Going to see "Taxi Driver" is impossible. The knowing, ironic laughter from the audience makes it unwatchable. It’s fine to want to be entertained, but sometimes it crosses a line to a point where people don’t want to take anything seriously. The reading didn’t unfold like that. I got more laughs at the bookstore than the comedy club.
I’ve been writing a lot more fiction lately as well as letters to myself. Stuff too personal to ever put here. Things I need to excise from my brain and explore, privately. Writing’s going well though, the novel’s rolling forward. I’d like everyone to read the comments to the 2012 post. I think they’re interesting. Here’s my theory: a writer needs to have a spiritual side. Without it, writing would be one-dimensional. Writing is supposed to mean more than the flat words on a page. Without believing in some layer of magic behind everything, this might be harder to reach. That’s my theory. Nobody said writers aren’t supposed to be eccentric. I think eccentricity has been sucked out of America. I remember thinking the same thing while living in New York: where have all the freaks gone? I don’t think you can chalk it all up to Guliani and the cost of living. People are more afraid to breathe than they used to. Mainly because other people are more quick to be cynical. Such as myself.
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