Ever since I began attending readings, I’ve been thinking about what I would want at my own. I picture it being like a wedding—showing that it’s official now; for better or for worse, you’ve committed to writing for the long haul. (Also like weddings, I can imagine they would become tiresome if you participated in too many.)
Or maybe readings are just a sign that you as a writer have been fully incorporated into the cult of CanLit. Other signs include being on the mailing list for more than three lit journals, being conversant with Atwood novels, and knowing what a Writer’s Reserve Grant is. (There should be a Buzzfeed quiz about this.) Since I can satisfy all of the other requirements, all I need to do is to write something…but I think for now I’ll procrastinate by writing the wishlist for my dream reading instead.
Hold it on a weekend. I would choose a reading on a Friday or a Saturday anytime over a weekday (I’m at TNQ all week, so I have to spread some of that joy to the weekend!) and, despite mockery from friends, I refuse to see anything wrong with that.
Serve food, which would preferably be free. Do I love readings held in cafés? Yes. Do I love readings that have free pizza (or even better, free wine) more? YES. By providing food, I hope to entice people who aren’t my family into attending.
Ensure it’s easy to find and access. Anyone who wants to attend a reading should be able to, whether that means providing clear directions (for the directionally challenged like me), ensuring there’s wheelchair access, and anything else that makes the listener feel at ease.
Provide comfortable chairs. This should be a given. Readings are supposed to be thought-provoking…but how are you supposed to think when you’re cramped in uncomfortable, hard chairs? I, for one, have already spent enough time in cramped classroom chairs to last a lifetime (and I’m not done yet). Help me start the armchair revolution! (End rant.)
Have copies of the reader’s books for sale. Since I often want to buy books after readings, in my dream universe other attendees would want to buy mine. (At least one person who isn’t my mother, anyway.)
Have breaks between segments. This will ensure attendees have time to socialize…or, if they prefer, to take a snack break. (Or to take a discreet nap in the comfortable chairs. I will not judge you.)
Be inexpensive. Two dollars? Pay what you can? Enough to cover pizza? Any (or all) of these are good options… since we all know the lives of literary devotees don’t necessarily pay (but I want to provide pizza or wine to help people forget that).
…And here you have it: my wedding plans. They’re fairly basic; I don’t think I would be a demanding bride. However, never having participated in a literary wedding, I can’t really say. To all you writers out there who actually have: how would your dream reading go?