BGWS Student Readings: About Timing
By Michael Jernigan, Bluegrass Writers Studio
Part of the experience at the 2015 Winter Residency is to hear the work of other writers. From faculty to guest writers, there is so much to learn from seeing people already in the business perform their work. An equally good experience, in my opinion, is hearing the work from fellow students and alumni. You get to see what everyone else is up to. Often, we are so focused on our classes and workshops we forget that our circle expands beyond our particular focus, be it fiction, nonfiction or poetry.
The student readings are a chance to be exposed to the work of people we may not get to workshop with, not to mention a chance to meet them and perhaps form lifelong professional or personal relationships. Or to seethe with jealousy and hate them forever. Either way, at least you know where you stand.
I think everyone who participated did an awesome job. There were no obvious mistakes, no shuddering voices or quivering stomachs emptying their contents into the audience. Although I am proud to be in the company of all the great writers who participated, there were a few that stuck out. I am in no way diminishing anyone’s work if I don’t mention them, rather I am speaking about those that resonated with me, personally.
Doug Brewer’s “The Weeping Fig” was funny and very well written, and no one can deliver it better than Doug himself with his dry, calm delivery and smooth, subtle inflections that just add so much flavor to the reading. Doug is the type of writer that other writers want to strangle… a damn good one. “The Weeping Fig” is not just a good story and example of great writing, it is a testament to restraint and purpose. Doug does not rush any details and gets to them at a natural pace that couples with his reading style to deliver a fantastic experience. Personally, I am planning on practicing restraint in my writing to enhance stories where I find myself rushing through potential gold to get to the story I think I might have. And in the process I am missing opportunities for great characterization or scene work.
Many students deserve mention for their readings but my favorite had to be Rachael Hamm’s “Duke of Squirrel.” At heart it is a poignant story about the unlikely love of one’s dog. I say “at heart” because Rachael presents it with such humor that more than once her reading elicited laugh out loud moments. Coupled with her thick accent and timing, the reading was an absolute treat for me. Humor is hard, very tough to get right and Rachael makes it look so simple… and yes I absolutely hate her because if it. So much so I practically begged her to begin submitting her work when we met for dinner with our families.
The student readings were a very good learning experience for me and to any future Residency members, I hope you get as much out of them as I did.
Published on February 17, 2015