Last week, I read my short story, “12 Notes to my 12-Year-Old Self,” for the Nueva Onda Poets’ reading at Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial in Edinburg, Texas. I had recently revised the piece, hoping to have it down for the reading – the night’s theme was Chocolate Lovers, even though in many posts I had called it Chocolate Love.
I don’t know if the Nueva Onda Poets – which I am a part of – were the ones heralding the night, because the most of the readers in attendance were apart of the Texas Rio Writers – which I’m not a part of. Texas Rio Writers were there promoting their recently published anthology, Valleysong: An Anthology Echoing the Rhythm and Cadence in the Rio Grande Valley, which features short stories from fellow NOP writers and friends, Richard Sanchez and Dr. Anne Estevis.
Because I’ve never read in front of a crowd of writers who’ve been writing before I was even a thought in my parent’s head, I was nervous. Here I am, reading a piece about an awkward time in my life that happened to coincide with the momentous event of receiving my first love note. Lucky, I took that piece and not the lyrical essay about the raunchy details of my ex-girlfriend. (I actually did have this piece in my binder, but because the night also involved a younger crowd, I decided not to read it for their sake.)
So I read it, the second adult reader of the night. Nervously, I should say, I concluded the piece. I said my thank yous and sat down beside Ann Greenfield, a friend of Anne and a writer featured in Valleysong. To my right was El Senor, who said he wasn’t reading because all his material was still packed from the move. I produced a copy of his poem “Politically Incorrect,” which I thought suited the night’s darker side of love. No dice.
During intermission, I got several I-liked-your-story compliments and spoke to a few strangers, something I’ve been having a harder time doing since I’ve divorced myself from society. Jan Seale, who – I believe – is the organizer of the Texas Rio Writers, also came up to me. While I’ve been to a reader where she was in attendance, I never properly met her. She asked if we’d spoken before in the past, but I told her we might have only just seen each other at a reading.
She asked if I had ever been published. Other than a piece I wrote for Gallery, I told her I hadn’t. She insisted that I stop with the perfectionist attitude and get my stuff out there. Maybe “12 Notes” is ready to see some light, maybe in a YA magazine – after I make a few minor cuts and alterations.
Later, one lady – who I believed worked for the library – complimented my story again, adding in that my writing reminded her of Augusten Burroughs – though, in the past, I’ve been told I’ve reminded people of the other Burroughs.
I think I came out of that night with an inflated ego – something I was in dire need of because I was falling back into myself – and a library copy of Kinky Friedman’s Kill Two Birds & Get Stoned. All in all, it was a good night.