Thursday, May 23, 2013

Undercurrents: Getting there one word at a time

Kayla and Nick at Writers Gallery
PANAMA CITY — One word at a time.

That seemed to be the lesson at Tuesday night’s gathering of the Writers Gallery.

On the third Tuesday of each month, local writers meet at Chez Amavida in the historic St. Andrews neighborhood to read something they’ve been working on, or to share a passage from their published work. The readings range from poetry to prose, and within those areas are encompassed true stories, dark fictions, regional farce, religious testimonials and philosophies. You might not like all of it, but chances are you’ll love some of it.

It can be a boisterous crowd, as some others in the coffee shop discovered Tuesday. We applaud each reader when they finish, and when those applause coincide with someone entering the shop, they can be taken aback.

Of course, a few of the regulars are lurkers. That is, they listen, they watch, they applaud when appropriate, but they don’t enter the spotlight to expose themselves (metaphorically).

One word at a time was how one of the readers progressed through his effort. Upon making acquaintance with the microphone after several invitations from our emcee, Kayla May, the man explained how he drew letters on a page until they made words, then grouped words on the page until they made sentences. However, he wasn’t sure if the sentences made sense, even as he began to read them.

I can relate. I suppose you, dear readers, can too.

(I flashed back a couple of days, to a morning when I stopped alongside Delwood Road to remove a small turtle from the street. I watched it plod, one step at a time toward the trees, and wondered how long it would take for it to reach its destination. I was reminded that life’s about the journey, the steps, rather than the goal, which is ever changing.)

One word at a time also was how Kayla bravely made her way through reading the story of a Gallery regular who prefers not to read his own work aloud. Her willingness to proceed through the pronunciation of unfamiliar words lent a new level of enjoyment to the experience.

The monthly event, beginning its third year, was organized by Nick May, Kayla’s husband, the author of “Megabelt” and “MinuteMen,” and a worship arts leader at Northstar Church in Panama City. On Tuesday, he read from a blog about his creative process and the importance of prayer. (You can see the whole thing at his site, HeyNickMay.com.)

Like most writers of any discernment, Nick gives himself a hard time. It’s no easy thing to find a balance between real-world obligation and the desire for creative expression, between family and fiction, between words and the Word.

His blog ends with a self-admonition we could all embrace: “So here goes … one word at a time.”

Peace.

(This is my Undercurrents column for PanamaCity.com and The News Herald this week.)
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