Zen for Ten 24: Storytelling and Sound Remix

The blog is back! (For now. 🙂 ) Apologies for my long absence, and thank you for visiting again.

These past few weeks have been super-busy. To Love A Stranger‘s launch party on June 10 was a great success (pix and video coming soon!). The following week, I went to the wonderful Kenyon Review Writers Workshops, as a teaching fellow in fiction.

Kenyon was an amazing experience. I first went to the workshop six years ago, knowing basically nothing about writing, struggling with the first draft of what would become Stranger, and overawed by the talents and achievements of the faculty and fellows. It felt surreal to come back this summer as a fellow myself. Kenyon is the reason Stranger was published, and to be received as a friend and colleague there by writers I respect so much was exhilarating. I came home with more confidence than I’ve had in a long time, and with my next project bubbling in my mind.

One of the best parts of the Kenyon week was getting to bring my music along. Music has shaped my writing so much, and though finding the balance between the two professions has had its challenges, it felt deeply satisfying to be grounded in each of them over the course of the workshop. During the week, I collaborated with fellow writer and Kenyon alumna Taylor Larsen, whose debut novel Stranger, Father, Beloved came out this year to great reviews. Taylor and I gave a storytelling-and-sound event of our own, in which she read excerpts from her novel and I played short pieces in between. The combination of music and words got a great response from the audience: the music created a backdrop and emotional context for the writing, and gave listeners a chance to reflect on the story they heard as it progressed.

With that event as my inspiration, I decided to try something a little different on the blog today. This might or might not be a long-running project, but I’d love to do more to combine written stories with music, and weave the two kinds of storytelling together more actively here.

With that in mind, I created my first combination reading/playing video, using my short story “Absolution” which was published this past March in Sinkhole Magazine. I divided the reading into two parts and alternated those parts with the two movements of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 49 no. 1.

This new video format is still in the figuring-out stages, but if all goes well, I’d love to continue with this idea as the blog’s main focus. I’ll use more of my own work, but also hope to feature work by other writers. In these two solitary pursuits, collaboration always makes things more fun!

The blog will be taking another hiatus over the next couple of weeks, as I’ll be traveling and getting some much-needed outdoor time, but it’ll be back in August on a regular schedule. As always, thanks so much for checking it out. Enjoy the video!

Featured story:Absolution

Featured music: Sonata in G minor, Op. 49 no. 1, by Ludwig van Beethoven




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