Although I’ve had some success with my short story, Cosmo Yarrow Blows His Brains Out, I discovered that I needed to make a major fix after watching the video podcast. My last paragraph needs to start the story. That’s where the passion and resentment is. It’s the reason for telling the story.
Getting it Right, Ron Gephart Blog at Holly Street Memphis
June 22, 2019
I always start a new story at the Voices of the South Writers' Cabaret. Whatever prompt I choose, I forget about any work in progress and take off with a new idea. I usually work in shards of glass somewhere so I can use it in my shard story collection. For instance, when the prompt was “a toy from your childhood,” I wrote “Cucumber Bicycle Seat” at the top of my page and took off with it. It was some childhood friend who referred to his green banana bicycle seat as his “cucumber seat,” but in my story, I attributed it to my mother-in-law who once told me about her 8-year-old son's tragic death on his bicycle in 1967. I read the story aloud 3 times during the Voices in the South Fringe Festival, and after several rewrites, I'm starting to shop it around.
Two other stories I wrote during the writers’ Cabaret had several rewrites after posting video podcasts at the Holly Street Memphis website. One got an honorable mention in the Glimmer Train journal family matters contest, and another is a finalist in the Tulip Tree Journal New Writers competition. I need deadlines, my feet held to the fire, and minimal distractions when I write. Join a group and turn the heat up.
Holly Street Memphis Blog, June 17, 2019, by Natalie Parker-Lawrence
Being immersed in a theatre festival in the beginning of our inception was a daunting task. Ron was brave enough to jump in and shout out, “The water’s fine! Come on in!” It’s a good thing we trust him.
We DID have an auspicious start last weekend in the Fringe Festival at Rhodes College with three major performance slots, the one scheduled during the Tony awards, maybe not so much in front of Mongol hordes, but we had appreciative audiences clapping loudly nonetheless.
We presented two short stories, two essays, and a short play. We had sound effects and marvelous readers, performing on the university’s black box theatre’s main stage with music stands and microphones.
Some of the presented works had been started initially in the writing workshops of Voices of the South, the producers and hosts of the Fringe Festival. We are thankful for their invitation, their inspiration, and their help with time, space, technology, tickets, and moral support.
What are the most important results of the festival? We are better writers than we were two weeks ago because we heard and saw our work up close. We took note of audience responses, incongruent pauses, repetitive diction, and awkward syntax and put that information to immediate use in editing our own work as well as making suggestions for each other.
Two actors saw how good their work was as well as how much better it would be off book. Three readers gave clean and clear renditions of their prose to audiences not practiced in the fine line of listening. We made some people put down their phones. We were funny, sexy, poignant, surprised, innocent, jubilant, frustrated, rude, nasty, and sad. Every performance was better than the one before for all of us.
And these are two of the goals of Holly Street Memphis: we are better writers and readers because we work with talented and wise people whom we can trust to want us to be better and think better on paper and out loud. We keep swimming in the uncertainty of ominous storms.
Thank you for coming to our latest performances! Look for our next endeavors at the Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis, July 11-14.