One of our Workshop Writers, Erin Machniak, read some workshop writing of hers at an open mic this weekend, here in Austin. While we enjoyed hearing her writing read out loud — a piece based upon “These the things my mother taught me; these are the things my mother did not teach me — the mic’s organizers passed out a guide to open mic readings in the Austin area.

Austin Open MicsHere’s the handout, with readings nearly every day of the week. Some are populated by poets, others take any type of fiction. Five minutes is a good time limit for your reading. That’s going to be something on the order of 400 words. You need to read a little slower than you think — well, maybe a lot slower if you’re in a rush when you read. When all that we have is the sound of words, it helps to deliver them slow enough that we can paint pictures of what we’re hearing.

Of course, reading aloud is a feature of Workshop meetings. It’s optional, for the writing we’ve just created together. But for people like Erin who read, they receive the immediate response from other writers: only the positive response of what we remembered, what stayed with us, what was alive and working in the writing. Just-written stories deserve this gentle treatment. As I say, if you cannot identify what’s working in your writing, then you’ve got no business rooting out what is not working.

Erin’s writing will appear in our forthcoming anthology, Small Packages. Coming soon in Austin, on Amazon, and elsewhere.

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