All Gathered Around the Campfire

horsehead fire

There is something amazing about reading something you’ve written in front of an audience and feeling that they hanging on your every word. It’s a primal satisfaction; like what our ancestors must’ve felt telling stories around the campfire. When the reader and the listener are in sync, riding the plot’s roller coaster together, there’s no better experience.

That’s why live readings and open mic nights are so important. They tap into this ancient practice of oral storytelling and pull it into the modern world. Hearing a story read out loud by its author is totally different than reading it on the screen of your smartphone and while fewer and fewer interactions are happening face-to-face, reading for a crowd becomes that much more special.

This past Monday night, I had the privilege of reading my new short story at Creative Colloquy’s monthly gathering. It took me a few pages to get the feel for the right rhythm and cadence, but somewhere on page three, I felt that electric sensation of thirty other people joining the ride. People laughed when something funny happened; they got quiet when something serious took place in the world of my story. Together, for a brief time, we made that little world of paper and words real.

If you ever have a chance to hear someone read fiction or poetry live, I highly encourage you to try it. Because when the listeners and the readers are invested in the words, you’ll be transported back to the days when the tribe gathered around the fire to tell stories. There’s nothing more powerful — more human — than that and we all need to be reminded of that from time to time.

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Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. You can read his work on Creative Colloquy or follow him on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

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