Last night I participated in a Pride event at my local GLBT community center. They've got a lot of events all month, including our citywide Pride festival in two weeks. Last night was the opening of an art show (which included three paintings by my cover artist, Paul Richmond) that included a theater performance and two readings, one by yours truly.
Choosing an excerpt to read is a little tricky. I don't want to read any of the naughtier bits, despite Paul's frequent exhortations that I do so. I always want to include as much dialogue as I can, because it's easy to read and has a more natural rhythm than descriptions. The other issue is that I write in so much of the characters' internal thoughts, and that's difficult to convey aloud. It's done with italics in print, but aloud you have to somehow distinguish it from spoken dialogue or just straight narration. So I wanted an excerpt that didn't include as much of the internal-monologue stuff. I ended up going with the second half of chapter 3, which is probably Jack and D's first real conversation, in the car on the way to Quartzsite, then their visit to D's bunker for ammo and money, then the wrap-up scene in the motel where Jack figures out that D was in the military.
The reading went over very well. I got a lot of very flattering praise from the audience members. Actually doing the reading was sheer hell, though. It was a beautiful day yesterday but in the upstairs meeting space where the reading was held, it was beastly hot. To add insult to injury, they had theatrical stagelights aimed at me, which upped the temperature by about twenty degrees. By the time I was finished, I was dripping.
The other thing about reading aloud is that there's nothing that exposes all the flaws and little missteps in one's writing than hearing it spoken. The thing about reading is that your eyes skip over things. You don't notice everything when you're reading because your brain fills in the gist of sentences and you don't take in and digest every single word and syllable. When you hear text spoken, on the other hand, you hear every single word. I found myself making small adjustments as I read. I do read my writing aloud to myself as I polish and edit, for exactly this reason, but nothing's ever perfect. I found myself cursing my own folly in giving Jack a three-syllable last name, as I ended up pronouncing it over and over again.
Regardless, it was a great night, and I hope more good things will come of it.