It’s odd how often being a writer involves reading aloud to an audience.
There’s no logical connection between the two. Writing is an introverted activity, reading aloud the domain of the extrovert. Writing is creating, reading aloud is performing.
Sometimes we say a book is a good ‘read aloud’. But books aren’t necessarily written to be read aloud. It’s not like writing a play, where the actors, as transmitters of the written word, play a part – can’t help playing a part – in its interpretation.
What about a poem? Is it meant to be read aloud? If so, the same thing applies, even if the reader and the poet are the same person.
Of course that’s true for a novel, too, when the author, in reading the work aloud, also becomes its interpreter.
And, anyway, there’s always a gap between what the writer, in whatever genre, is trying to say and what the reader ‘receives’. But that’s true for all human communication, written or spoken. We never know how what we are saying – trying to say – is being received by our listener. It’s part of the essential alone-ness of the human condition, if you want to get existential about it.
Which I don’t, not right now, anyway, and never intended to.
What prompted these perambulations is a weekend of readings, which took me from the lovely olde worlde elegance of the Tidal Watch Inn, in the picturesque seaside town of St. Martins, New Brunswick, Canada, to the casual cool chic of Saint John’s Teen Resource Centre.
The first reading was to a group of erudite Road Scholars (formerly Elderhostellers) from all over the U.S. It was a return visit for me to the Tidal Watch Inn, where Kathy, the owner, was kind enough to introduce me as the Inn’s resident author, and, as always, made the reading experience a total pleasure.
The second reading was to a group of cautiously inquisitive teens who gave up their Saturday night to attend an event intriguingly and seductively entitled Walking in the Myst. Part of Saint John’s Fog Lit Festival, it featured authors Eric Murphy, Vicki Grant, Lisa Harrington, and me. My contribution was the ‘official’ launch of Black Water Rising.
Both audiences were equally rewarding to read to. Hoping they both felt equally rewarded for listening.