The Dollhouse Reading Series #7

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Amidst crawling cats and low lighting, I attended The Dollhouse Reading Series #7 this past Friday. I have written about the series before, about its lack of snooze and general fabness, but this time I wanted to speak about the reading series (The Dollhouse and others) not as creative outlet, but as Professional Development.

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I write Nonfiction; obviously, you would assume this by the fact that I am blogging about the Nonfiction program weekly. And, if you read any of my posts, you know that I also do faculty profiles for the Office of Academic Affairs. I’ve also done a little bit of ghost writing and copy-writing, all valid forms of professional development. Curating a reading series is another type of professional development, one that calls for a similar set of skills that actual writing calls for. To run a reading series, you need a certain level of organization, communication, and promotion (all writerly skills, as well as professional skills).

There’s no money in running a reading series, so by professional development, I do not mean to say that you will be making any money. I don’t think that anyone applies for an MFA program to make money. Well, maybe some people are able to make some money off of their creative writing, but for the most part this is not the norm. But, there are ways to promote your work and to promote the work of writers that you admire. A reading series is one of those ways.

The Dollhouse Reading Series started as a small event, in Dolly Lemke‘s apartment, with readers ranging from Columbia MFA student writers to local Chicago writers. Installment #7 brought out the big guns—Liz Hildreth, Wendy Xu, Nate Slawson and Matt Hart. And the series is continuing to do so, but managing to keep the smallness—the series is still held in Dolly’s apartment—and the blend of emerging writers and more established writers.

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During my time at Columbia, I’ve had the opportunity to co-curate two reading series—The 33 Reading Series, which I recently blogged about and the Bomb & Bird Series. Both series aim to give emerging writers, specifically Columbia MFA students, the chance to read their work in front of an audience.

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It is not only important to read you own work, but to support other writer’s, as this is also professional development, a way to make connections and find out what’s going on out in the wide-world of writing.  A writer needs to branch out, to try new things in their writing, new professional styles of writing, but also to immerse themselves in what is going on in the writing community, to see what has already been done, is being done, and use that knowledge to figure out what’s next in their own path as a writer, creatively and professionally.