A Feedback Loop of Creative Writing

Here’s a microphone. Feel good about yourself. Anything is possible. Go out and do what you think you can do. Change your life. Become the person you want to sleep with. OK. Become the person you want to sleep with every night. Hm. Become the person you want to sleep with most nights? No. Become the person you want to champion. Yes. Become the voice that you would amplify. Nietzsche: “Become who you are.”

What was Quiet Lightning 11? Depends who you ask. It was the first time Matthew James DeCoster ever read in public and the first time he was published. That’s a story. It was the first time we ever made love in a bookstore and the first time our show was ever broadcast in real time over the internet. Imagine. The first time we sold out of sPARKLE & bLINK before the show started. It was the first time anyone from my family ever saw Quiet Lightning.

But it was more than just first times. Again, it was spoken by numerous people: these shows keep getting better every time. How? Could that possibly be?

Simple. Those who have participated have improved. Did you see Nic Alea Wednesday night? Are you watching these artists grow right in front of you, proud and unembarrassed to blossom? Those new to the show are excited to be involved. Why wouldn’t they be?

No, I am not saying Quiet Lightning is a wonder drug. That would be vain and absurd. Although sometimes it does feel addictive and it does pretty much get me high just thinking about it … Those who have participated have improved because they have attentive listeners. What does it feel like when the readers emerge from the audience and take the microphone? It feels like we are all a part of this thing. DeCoster asked, at Zam Zam: “Was I the one who sat in the crowd longest before submitting?” #Catchthefever

We have created a feedback loop of creative writing.

Quiet Lightning 11 was also this: affirmation that anything is possible. Why? Less than a year ago, many of our readers had never publicly read, much less been published. Look what has happened! We have our own publication. We have printed 9 books in 9 months. Readings lead to books. Books lead to bookstores. Bookstores lead to …

My point is, I wanted QL to be a series that highlighted journal entries, that featured work no one would publish because it was too raw or too undefined; I wanted to take whispers in the dark and put them in front of a microphone, to encourage everyone with drawers full of dusty journals to take them out and share them with me and with each other. It used to be: no book, why write? At least in my mind. My personal ambition was never to seek publication but to fill those drawers and leave a body of work behind me. But as I did in fact fill my drawers I started to get discouraged somehow; it didn’t seem to make sense anymore. If you’re not sharing your work, a best friend used to ask me, what’s the point of creating it?

Thus the readings. And then the books happened. There’s an audience now. How does that effect your writing? The results are in, and here is the evidence:

Maisha Johnson

Jeremy Hatch

Hollie Hardy

Chris Cole

Nic Alea

Matthew James DeCoster

Amanda Snyder

Matt Stewart

Andrew O. Dugas

Seth Fischer

Alia Volz

H.K. Rainey

M.L. Heath

Daniel Ishofsky

Or, watch the whole thing as it was streamed live :: this is pretty much exactly what QL is like.

I would like to end this little reflection with a hat tip to November 30, when we will celebrate OUR ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY with Neighborhood Heroes, v.2. This is what happened last time (and what SFWeekly said about it). Stay tuned for more info and video links, but reserve Tues the 30th. It will be our 12th show and a celebration of everything that’s happened so far this year and a brief look ahead at next year, which will see some changes.

111 Minna | $5. It’s going to be wild.