Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Famous Unknown

On Sunday night I'm drinking beers at the Wunder Brewery on 9th, reading through the SF Weekly. When I get to the "top picks" in the events section, Thursday night's feature is the "Mixed Muse" reading, and it mentions me by name. The actual quote is: "As for those individuals and groups we've never met: Marcos Soriano, Alia Volz, Dustin Heron, and bands Lazarus and Si, Claro are local luminaries all, with Pushcart Prizes, rad music pedigrees, and molto publications among them." So I'm a local luminary, but also someone they've never heard of. How cool is that?

Monday, December 17, 2007

reflecting on the Mixed Muse Reading

The reading I'd mentioned in a past post came and went last Thursday, and I managed to not shit myself or faint while on stage. Actually, my nerves didn't develop into the paralysing disability I'd feared they might, and the nerves I did have provided enough pressure to make me feel buzzed on relief afterwards, which is cool. Can't undervalue a free natural high.

I think one of the things that helped me get through it was the level of preparation I put in before the event. Almost every day leading up to the performance, I read the piece out loud to myself. By the end I knew the piece well enough to sink into it like a worn easy-chair, and when my nerves kicked in, the piece served as a flotation device to cling to.

It's a good thing I had that flotation device, too. I'd never been to the LAB before, and it was bigger than I thought it would be. There was a good-sized crowd--probably more than 40 people--most of whom I'd never met, and we had to read at a lecturn up on a four-foot high stage, with spotlights in our faces, while someone in the back filmed and took pictures. And the reader who went on before me--Alia Volz--was confident and charming and attractive; definitely a tough act to follow.

After Alia finished her piece, I stumbled through the storm of applause for her, and mounted those treacherous looking steps to the stage (very steep, painted black, and with no gaurdrail; I had a flashing image pass through my mind while I climbed: Marcos falling on his ass in front of the unkown crowd). Behind the lecturn, my voice boomed, huge from the speakers bouncing it back at the stage. For a second that tripped me up too, but I figured it was just my vantage point that made the sound so huge and echoey; things sounded fine from the crowd. I introduced myself, mentioned that I mostly work in fiction but this particular piece was nonfiction, and then launched into the text.

Launched is probably an appropriate term; I hit those words at such a pace that I might as well have been shot out of a cannon. It took me a few paragraphs to realize I was reading too fast, and then another few paragraphs to correct it, but I did manage to shift to a more appropriate speed before too long. I'm sad about the start though, because that's good stuff and my reading didn't do it justice.

There was one moment, while describing the jumper's appearance, when someone in the crowd guffawed at the word "elfin." Other than that, I felt I was able to pull the people into the text, so that they were there with me, feeling the intended tone by the story's conclusion. When I finished the piece the applause seemed hearty enough to make me feel I'd managed to keep them up on the level Alia first brought them too. I tripped down those steep black stairs, looking a bit elfin myself, I'm sure, and got back to my spot in the crowd.

Sona Avakian came on after me, followed by Sarah Fran Wisby. They both read witty pieces that made my grim, earnest tragedy seem very out of place. Sarah even mentioned this during her time on the mike: "You guys sure are easy to get a chuckle out of tonight. Must be because of that suicide piece; now everyone needs to laugh." I'm pretty used to feeling like my writing doesn't fit in with the SF literary scene, though (with it's McSweeney's-style quirkiness) so I wasn't bothered.

Also in abundance, besides quirk, were mentions of clitorises. Of six readers, three featured the organ in their work that night. Glad to know SF is such a clit-friendly town.

One of the three readers who didn't mention a clitoris in his reading (though he did mention nipples), and the only other reader besides myself who doesn't even have a clitoris, was Dustin Heron. He read two solid pieces, which intrigued me enough to go buy a copy of his book "Paradise Stories." I haven't started reading it yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

After the readings, Eric Zassenhaus (the other editor for Instant City) introduced himself to me. Seemed like a really nice guy. I had the chance to share a few words with Gravity too (also very nice). I ended up leaving just as the dude who calls his solo music project "Si, claro" started playing.

All in all, a good night. I'd definitely be willing to read again.