Readings and Gratitude

Readings and Gratitude

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As I write this, September is ending. October is just hours away, and that change is present in the air. It’s cooling off, sending the carefree heat of summer away until next year. It’s time to buckle down and get to work.Even though the number of classes grads take is less than a typical undergrad schedule, make no mistake—the workload is enough to keep you busy. This requires an arsenal of tools to keep me on schedule. I have alarms, and I have a notebook with events and assignments. I also have whiteboards in my apartment with daily schedules and to-do lists.

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In addition to keeping up with my classwork and other projects, I have been attending every reading I can fit into my schedule. I am so excited to live in a city where there are always events to attend and new words to experience. This past month I have had the pleasure of attending The Dollhouse #27, The Swell #2, Carmen Giménez Smith at Columbia College Chicago, and the kickoff to the newest version of the 33 Reading Series (featuring poets and nonfiction writers from our own MFA programs).

In my opinion, attending readings is one of the best things about being part of a community of writers. I find it inspiring in terms of reconsidering my own creative work in a public rather than private setting, expanding my horizons, and thinking in new ways, but also by the idea of it: lovers of words coming together for a short period of time to share and revel in words. As writers, we often live and work within our own heads, which can be very limiting. Going to readings and meeting with other writers and readers helps us connect and break down boundaries sometimes created by the pages we fill. I’m thrilled to be exploring some of the events Chicago has to offer, but I know there are more out there. Who knows what I may discover (an event, a writer, a change in my own work?)

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Meeting Carmen Giménez Smith was a really important event that I am thrilled I had the opportunity to take part in. Prior to her reading at Columbia College Chicago, she did a Q&A session with graduate students in the Creative Writing – Nonfiction program. We had the chance to speak writer-to-writer and ask her questions about her process, her artistic sensibilities, and what it means to live “the writing life.” At the reading, hearing her speak aloud the words I had read on the page brought them to life in a completely different way for me.

That is what great writing is all about–being able to move something within another human being and change the way he or she sees the world. Experiencing Carmen Giménez Smith’s words took me to another place and opened something in me that keeps resurfacing in my recent work. I am going places with my writing that in the past I had been cautious to touch, and for that I am grateful.