I’m a writer, and my craft requires a reader

My job is to weave the tale toward a universal truth—to give the reader a reason to turn the page: a reason to care. Many months ago, the memoir I call “The Bachelor Chapters” quit being about my story, and instead, became a story. That was my plan, and after eighteen months, thousands of words, and as many decisions—I’m calling it “done.”

I’m releasing the book in January 2014—but I celebrated the final manuscript last Wednesday with a reading at Eco-Bar, in the mountain city of Medellin, Colombia. This place is one of my home’s—a place where I live and write—but only for two or three months at a time. Like Cartagena, Barcelona, and Buenos Aires, in Medellin I have a small and growing community of locals and ex-pat’s: as well as service provider’s and neighbor’s, dance teachers and bartenders. No matter where I live, I always have bartenders. And I always have dance teachers.

The audience on Wednesday night represented a keen reality of my global lifestyle—I have many young friends in my community—and I mean twenty-something young. These adults were born between the early nineteen eighties and nineties—the years I was the age that they are now.

A crowd of locals and a few ex-pats listen as Vicki Marie reads "The Bachelor Chapters" at Eco-Bar in Medellin, Colombia

A crowd of locals and a few ex-pats listen as Vicki Marie reads “The Bachelor Chapters” at Eco-Bar in Medellin, Colombia

 

So when I picked up the microphone last week, before I was welcomed by a few dozen polite listener’s, I took note that there was not a single person born before 1980 in my audience; and three quarter’s of them were natives of Medellin—a city and a country very different from my own.

The story I tell in “The Bachelor Chapters” features a forty-something year old woman, who decides to change the game on romance and love, in a thoughtful and deliberate way. This is a story I could not have written before now, because it depends on wisdom and life experience and reflection culled from more than fifty years of birthdays.

Reading a book out loud is very different than acting, which I had done long ago. Because I don’t memorize the text, because I have to keep my eyes on the pages, I have little interaction with the audience. There is the occasional glance into the crowd to emphasize a point or a good line—but the experience is essentially a one-way performance. I have no idea during the thirty minutes of airtime if my audience is engaged, bored, or merely exercising good manners.

I had great doubts that the mixed crowd of young men and women would relate to the story, or be persuaded to pay attention to the fruits of my labor. Their lives are so different than mine—I am the age of their parents—and we all know the decade of the twenties is when we break childhood bonds, and exercise adulthood. Parents lose relevance, at least for a while. It’s just the way it works; it’s what has to happen.Vicki Marie reads "The Bachelor Chapters" at Eco-Bar in Medellin, Colombia

Vicki Marie reads “The Bachelor Chapters” at Eco-Bar in Medellin, Colombia

 

So, it is with shock and awe that I report that “The Bachelor Chapters”—the story that is bigger than my life—captivated and inspired young adults in a way I never could have imagined. Women and men—yes, men—came to me afterwards, and told me they wanted to read my book. The enthusiasm and appreciation gave me the miracle of affirmation and the sweet scent of success. I did it. I hooked readers. I transcended self. I tapped into human relevance. I wrote a good story.

Celebrating a successful reading of "The Bachelor Chapters" by mounting a stump: a Vicki Marie tradition that usually involves a chair

Celebrating a successful reading of “The Bachelor Chapters” by mounting a stump: a Vicki Marie tradition that usually involves a chair