Writing is a team sport. I know we don't mostly think of it that way, but what is a piece of writing without an audience? This realization came back to me as I read at Fremd this week. Tony Romano, one of the English teachers at the school and a very soon (April) to be published novelist told me how he had just about given up on getting published had it not been for the caring support of his writer's group and friends, especially Henry Sampson and Maria Mungai. It reminded me how important those first readers are for any work that I create, how friends and family all have a role in every one of my published (or still in the drawer) pieces.
And then there is the first airing for poetry before a live audience. I took the opportunity at Fremd to read from two unpublished manuscripts I am very excited about. First the book of love poems written with Allan Wolf, working title Informally Yours. Those poems are mostly written in form (sonnets, villanelles, tankas). Then I switched to poems from another manuscript, Could It Happen Here?, poems for teens on serious world topics, rumors spawned by a school shooting, 911, the war in Iraq, genocide, pollution, suicide.
Would the HS kids go for modern sonnets? Would the ironic parts make them smile? Would the tragic poems bring an emotional response? It all seemed to work as I rehearsed the night before, but I did feel a flutter of panic right before I was introduced and was tempted to switch back to the tried and true. But I stuck with the program.
The audience was more than receptive, laughing and silently absorbing. It was an educational, rewarding, affirming experience for me. I came home with marks on the papers -- rhythmic edits I will make based on how the piece flowed off the page and through a microphone. But mostly I came home filled with the patience needed to continue through the submission and waiting part of the publishing equation.
Thanks to all my friends at Fremd. I know the teachers and booster club work hard on this event to bolster the student's writing skills. I hope they know how these events also benefit the writers.