I had a chance to read my short story, Apartment 101, at a reading arranged by the Washington City Paper for its 2020 Fiction Contest winners.
I read first, sharing my fiction before an audience at the arts-friendly Eaton DC hotel and online via Facebook Live.
Standing in front of the crowd with my short story in hand, I read slowly, stressing the funny lines and looking up at the audience occasionally. A reading needs to have a bit of performance to it.
This wasn’t my first reading. I won the City Paper contest in 2017 for my short story Victory Party and read at Kramerbooks, which was the experience of a lifetime.
I was glad to read first because then I could sit back and enjoy the work of the other winning writers from the Fiction Issue.
Carmen Munir Russell-Sluchansky shared his story about an epic paintball war in DC. It’s funny, a rarity in these grim times in the nation’s capital. A journalist, he wrote it the night before the contest submission deadline.
Rhonda Green-Smith read her story of a child who learns everything she needs to know about life one morning in 1986. Her voice is DC authentic, coming from the real city beyond the monuments. This story is part of a collection that she’s working on.
Then we did a Q&A with the audience, including being asked for writing advice. I said: write what you know. Apartment 101 is based upon an apartment I lived in during the 90s. The characters and the events were all drawn from my experiences.
Thanks to City Paper for setting this up! Fiction provides a more satisfying experience than skimming a tweet. I hope that I inspired other people in the room to pick up the pen and start writing.