I had the opportunity to attend 3 Litquake events during the festival this year. I’ve been attending the festival for years and it has gotten so big that some of the events either sold out or they were turning eager listeners away at the door.
Here’s a tip for the future: get there very early if you want a seat. Listening to people read is not entertaining when you’re standing, fidgeting, and people are bumping into you. That means during the insanely popular Litcrawl on Saturday night, you should get to your chosen Phase I event 15 minutes early, skip Phase II, and get to your selected Phase III event 15 minutes early. If you try to attend all 3 phases, I’m certain you’ll miss out because the events were packed by the time we arrived.
One event that I always attend is the Women’s Night. This year the theme was Murders, Mayhem and Moxie at the Bubble Lounge on Friday night – conveniently located 2 blocks away from work. I got there right on time, 5:30, and had to stand by the bar because every seat and floor space was taken. 8 women read passages from their murder mysteries. One of them stood out, at least for me, from the rest because I could see her story play out in my mind from her descriptions. The rest…ahem…should be shot. It was like listening to mediocre romance novels treasured by the masses. Very generic.
I came away from the women’s event thinking anyone can write. Anyone! These women are published and they’re not any better than you or me.
We can do it!
On Saturday, I picked Blame It on the Alcohol: Tall Tales of Inebriated Misadventures for our Phase I Litcrawl event at Martuni’s. Brenda Knight, a 20-year publishing veteran recanted the night of the Giants World Series win with a piece written specially for Litquake. She had the bar entranced with her celebratory rendezvous. Everyone else was..mediocre.
Yes we can!
One writer was so vulgar; he must have said ‘penis’ over 20 times. TWENTY! I felt sorry for all the audience members eyeing the door. I felt bad for the other writers who had to look somewhat supportive despite their disgust. I felt sorry for me as I held Dean back from storming out. It was THAT bad. So bad that the host of the event should be ostracized from all Litquake events for choosing this pornographer to read.
From there, we stumbled upon innocent 826 Valencia, an after-school writing program for kids. From penis to mermaids, we could not be more relieved. We sat behind proud parents with their video cameras. The kids read in descending age order, starting out with the editor who hailed from Lowell high school down to a small Mexican girl who wrote about tiny roly polies. It could not be any cuter. This event was the highlight.
After each reader, the program director and volunteer coordinator asked the kids questions like where they went to school, what their inspiration was. One of the older kids was asked how he keeps up his writing. “Well, one of my teachers said that you should write when you’re sad or frustrated. I guess since I’m a teenager, I’m at that point in my life where there’s a lot of angst, you know? That makes it easy to write.”