Article was published in the Orange Ink June, 2009 issue of the Orange County Branch of the California Writers Club, by Sonia Marsh.
Standing in front of a mic is not what writers do best, but it can make you a better writer.
I first heard about DimeStories during a luncheon at the Literary Orange conference in April 2009. Michele McCormick, writer, and clinical psychologist by day, just happened to join our table and encouraged all writers to attend a DimeStories event at Laguna Beach Books.
Preparing a three-minute “dime story” forces you to write a short story from beginning to end, using what Michele calls the “slash and burn” editing technique. When I heard that selected “showcase” stories might be aired on NPR- National Public Radio, my ego kicked in, and I had visions of instant fame. During the next week, I read about the concept of DimeStories on http://DimeStories.org and prepared a three-minute excerpt from my memoir to share in front of an audience.
Easter Sunday, I attended my first DimeStories event. I arrived at 4:30 p.m., half an hour early to make sure I got my name in the “bucket.” The system is based on drawing names at random, so you really have no idea when you’re called up to the podium. I’d rehearsed several times in front of my bathroom mirror, reading my story aloud and timing it with a buzzer to stay within the strict three-minute time limit.
Laguna Beach Books is an inviting and friendly meeting place. After signing in, you can offer a $5.00 donation towards supporting the DimeStories events. Pink frosted cookies, cheese and crackers and wine are served to help you numb your nerves prior to reading. You can also browse the bookshelves or chat with other writers.
“Are you reading tonight?” an attractive woman asked me as I checked out the podium area. I told her this was my first time and found out she was Amy Wallen, the founder of DimeStories, in San Diego. She introduced me to Meredith Resnick, who started and hosts the Orange County branch of DimeStories.
After a few announcements, Amy Wallen placed her hand in the bucket. “Our first reader tonight is Sonia Marsh,” she said.
I sprang off my chair, like a jack-in-the-box, not quite sure where I was, nor what I was doing. Heading to the mic with confidence, I extended my arms holding onto my papers, and noticed they weren’t staying straight. My legs wobbled. Was there an earthquake? After the first paragraph, I took charge and finished my story on time.
It was over. I could relax and listen to others read. It was during the listening phase that I discovered how much I could learn from other writers and apply it to my own writing.
I also found that DimeStories can help:
• Get immediate reactions on what works and what might not work in your story
• Improve your writing skills
• Overcome shyness
• Offer media training
• Get exposure in the local press
• Showcase stories
• Chance to get on NPR
Hope to see you at a DimeStories event on the 2nd Sunday of each month at Laguna Beach Books at 5 p.m.