Friday, May 8, 2009

Success and My First Public Reading

Last night was the public reading for SCAD's 2009 volume of Artemis, the college's official literary journal. One of my pieces of writing, The Pigeon Man, was included in the volume so naturally I was there to read an excerpt. I arrived early at about 6PM for the 7PM reading after catching some dinner and sat around waiting for things to get moving. I watched the entire event get set up-- the mic testing, laying out of the food, laying out the copies of Artemis, and practised my reading while all this was going on. Not long after things were set up, one of the professors who edited the journal began putting together a reading order. I approached her, told her I would be reading an except from my story, and she put me down in what she called "lucky slot number six." 

The event was much busier than I expected it would be, and as the event was starting a nervousness started to build in the pit of my stomach. That nervousness ratcheted up notch by notch with each of the first few readers that left the podium as my own reading came closer. The fifth reader stepped up to the podium and read a very short piece that I don't believe I caught a word of and finally it was time for me to go to the podium.  I looked to the professor doing the introductions, waiting to hear my name called, and what escaped her lips sounded nothing like my name. In fact, it sounded like it was a girl's name. I'm pretty sure it was because a girl walked up to the stage and started to read. I didn't think too much of it, I figured that I had been moved so that the professor could keep the variation of readers she had wanted. Still, someone else was called after that girl, and then someone else, and then someone else, and by the time slot ten rolled around it seemed pretty sure I had been skipped over. I thought perhaps I'd be called up at the very end, thinking the professor had surely realized her mistake, but the last reader left the podium, thanks were given, and the night was over. Thus were the events of my first public reading, or rather, the events of the night of what was to be my first public. 

It seems nothing short of appropriate, in all honesty. A collegiate publication is actually worth some metal if it doesn't publish student work, but since SCAD's literary magazine is exclusively student work it's hardly notable. With only a few hundred copies printed, I believe 200, and somewhere along the lines of 35 writers in the collection- most assuredly snatching more than one volume- it doesn't leave a heck of a lot of room for circulation even around the SCAD campus. In reality, getting published in Artemis is only good for getting some respect for yourself as a writer, and for being able to throw a minor trifle on the resume. 

The entire time I was at the Artemis reading, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was just one big self-indulgent, self-congratulating affair. A significant portion of those in attendance were either included in the volume, edited it, or were there to support their friends. I'm sure the number of non-involved persons with a genuine interest was minimal. Still, there is something special in being recognized. Twice that day I was approached by people I know with congratulations, and though being included in the volume wasn't much more than proof that I have some merit as a writer to me, it was still rewarding to hear other writers acknowledge the inclusion. 

Success is something that doesn't come to those in the arts everyday. It's rare unfortunately, but at least that makes it that much more rewarding. Artemis may not be important in the scheme of things, it's a small thing that come ultimate career success or failure will always mean very little but like I've been saying: You take success where you find it and drink it up as much as you can. 


Kiriska said...

...Wow. Even if Artemis isn't really worth much in the grand scheme of things, that's really lame, and I can't believe the coordinator didn't realize her mistake, considering you watched the entire thing get set up and taken down. Speaking of.

"I watched the entire event get set up for..." -- Why is this "for" here. :|

Joe said...

I don't know, Yidi, but I've removed it just for your peace of mind. :)