Updated: Jul 1
My Purpose in A Single Gasp By Dylanna Fisher For The Edmonton Story Slam
My first time reciting a short piece of fiction in front of an audience was nerve-wracking and exhilarating all wrapped into one. I had shared a story before but never in front of strangers. Never had I shared a story in front of people that I couldn't gauge their reactions. Yet there I was with my hands sweaty, but my mouth so dry I couldn't swallow. Standing on stage in a darkened café, I stood there telling a tale about a simple camping trip providing a deeper glimpse into what life is and that it one day ends.
It started with the death of a deer. Being hit by a car means that it didn't have much of a chance. The deer was dead and alone while I was going camping to be surrounded by life and love and light. And that moment impacted me so much, I felt the need to share it with strangers.
I couldn't see the audience, not because of the darkness but because I couldn't see past my knuckles growing white from gripping the paper. At that moment, there were only the recounts of the story; A story of death, and of death being so close yet so unfathomable.
I spoke with a clarity that I didn't know I possessed.
"As I returned my focus to my family, I heard my uncle chastise my cousin, Brody, for getting too close to the fire. Brody was the youngest of the campers still awake. youngest of the ones sleeping too, come to think of it. Seconds passed and like many young kids, he did it again. I said, pausing to catch my breath and the audience's attention, "This time he went too far and fell forward."
I paused again. But something other than my heartbeat filled the silence.
Without being able to see her reaction, I could hear one of the audience members gasp while leaning forward in her chair. Her gasp was so audible, I swore I could feel her exhale against my cheek. The chair legs scraped against the concrete floor proving that she wasn't the only one on the edge of her seat.
Her gasp is the best inspiration and advice, I've ever gotten because it's always stayed with me. I'll never forget that moment, that connection with my audience. That's the point of all of this, of all my writing, of all my content. Connecting with people is why I write and why I love to write.
Writing is subjective. Everything is different for each writer and each specific work. The ways we get inspiration, the ways we maintain inspiration, the ways we construct prose, the ways we proofread, the ways we publish, the ways we maintain ourselves as writers are different. The ways we continue as writers differ with each word, with each sentence. What works for James Rollins won't work for Ross Campbell and vice versa. The advice given to writers is amazing and helpful but isn't universal because writers aren't universal because writing isn't universal. That's the point of literature.
That single gasp is one of my proudest singular moments as an author. I was able to make someone feel something. My words brought forth more than just a logical reaction but an emotional one. One that's more than a facial expression but an expression through her entire body.
I connected with my audience that night, and I want to do that every single day.