At Word Feast 2017
Posted: January 31, 2018
Event Dates: September 18, 2017 to September 24, 2017
Today, I'd like to go back a few months and talk about my first reading. It happened at Word Feast 2017, also known as the Fredericton's Literary Festival. To be honest, I did not know much about this event until I was told by a member of my writing group that our group was slated to read during the festival. I was excited at the news because I had never assisted to a reading before. What better way to assist to a reading than by supporting members of my own group? Except... I was one of the members that was selected to read... oh oh!
My first reaction was to ask myself how I could get out of it. I had lost my voice to a cold and was nervous about my French background and how it would impact my pronunciation. A few good excuses came to mind (having no voice being one of these). Before making a decision, though, I decided to ask my group about readings, what is expected, how they work, etc. Chuck Bowie explained that you give a brief introduction of yourself and your story, pick a passage with a combination of descriptions and dialogues (if possible), read slowly and finish by flashing your book at the crowd. He recommended practicing before the event. He also pointed out that as a writer, reading from your stories was a good way to share what you wrote and find new readers. Chuck's encouragements put my mind at ease and I decided to give it a try.
As suggested, I took a week to get ready and practice (I would have taken more, but only learnt a week ahead of time that I was reading). I initially picked three potential excerpts for the reading before settling on a part from The Burden of the Protector. I asked my wife (who's first language is English) if she would mind listening and providing tips. She was happy to help and pointed out a few words I needed to work on (the hardest for someone switching from French to English is often which syllable of a word to stress, which is a concept that does not exist in French). I also practiced by reading out loud to my son. Being five months at the time, he did listen, but got bored fairly quickly (understandably).
The festival spanned over a week, with a series of different events. I participated to a workshop titled "Talking Characters" (presented by Rebecca Rosenblum), which was a lot of fun. The open mic for readings was on the last day (Sunday). At the last minute, it was decided that my group would read first. I had asked my wife to only come later, because we decided against bringing my son at the beginning, as he usually napped during that time. When the schedule changed, I notified her right away and she said she would leave quickly. To allow her to make it on time, my group agreed that I would read third, following Jeremy Gilmer and Chuck Bowie. Both of their readings went well and I was a bit intimidated when my turn came. I was nervous but glad when I saw my wife appear at the back of the room. It meant a lot to me to have her there (she has always been very supportive of my writing). The reading went well. A four-minute reading might not sound like much, but I must admit that it was a proud moment nonetheless.
All in all, the reading was a very positive experience. In 2017, with the birth of our son, I expected not having as much time to write and aimed at participating a bit more in the writing community. My writing group, which I joined in the summer, was a good start. Reading at Word Feast continued my involvement and allowed me to meet other authors. As for the reading itself, I would recommend it to other authors (I went on to read again a month later).