Last Sunday I attended a reading in Hollywood put on by Tongue and Groove and PEN Center USA (postcard above). I met one of their “Emerging Voices” in the Advanced Fiction Workshop I took last quarter with Adam Cushman, and the PEN Fellow has joined my LA writers’ group.
He submitted a piece to the group that we work-shopped the Thursday before his reading. At the event four days later, the piece had morphed into something completely different. I liked the changes, but I found the most interesting part being privy to the revision process, particularly as I embark on that journey with my novel.
In the PEN program, Fellows work with mentors. One of them turned out to be Lou Mathews, who taught the Intermediate Workshop I took last fall. I feel lucky to have a mentor myself, and to have taken classes with writers who know what they’re doing.
The venue, the Hotel Café on Cahuenga, was a small, dark place lit only by hanging lamps and the stage. The only evidence that it was still sunny outside was the thin bright line around the exit door. I felt totally posh telling the guy at the ticket booth, “I’m on the list.” It was very much like going to a club, including walking over stars in the sidewalk on the way there and waiting in line to get in. I went with another writer from my group and on the way out, we encountered an African American dude in saggy jeans wearing a backpack with speakers blasting MJ. “How you doin’,” he said into his microphone. So Hollywood.
All of the pieces read were powerful in their own right. Of course I preferred certain ones, and the level of speaking made a difference. Performance matters, even for writers. This was the city of the stars, after all.