I gave my reading tonight. It went well. For once I was able to listen to -- and remember! -- the readers that came immediately before and after me. I must be getting more acclimated with reading to groups.
Although I have to say that it did feel sad to have so small an audience to read to this year. The Kenyon Review is down one fiction workshop this summer (probably because of the economy) and one poetry workshop because the instructor suddenly passed away several months ago. The Review (tastefully) did not seek an alternative instructor.
I ended up reading the story I had previously dubbed "boring." Turns out it was boring because the order I told it in was very dull. Workshop enlightened me, I went off and rewrote the story, met with the instructor who further reordered the story and I was good to go.
Good to go; after I read it to the mirror in my room roughly twenty times, that is.
I have come to understand that my main issue with story structure is endings. Not the last line as much as the last fifth of the story. I have developed a laundry list of ways to screw up an ending such as foregoing the plot to dwell on the emotional conflict. In workshop, this had been dubbed "Eileen's Problem." As in, when diagnosing someone else's story we use the phrase as shorthand for "you fucked up the ending."
I think it's cool to have a problem named after me.
I'm also learning to see it in other people's stories as they read them. That's what's really cool. Being able to pick it out in other people's work means I'm learning. Now if only I can gain enough distance to find it in my own ...
After the reading tonight I went out for a much enjoyed drink with a large group of people. I ended up staying at the bar for over two hours. Eventually the crowd thinned and the three of us left all had writing pads out.
It was enlightening to have the three quietest people from workshop have a conversation together. Five words were said.
That's a joke.