I am retired (sort of) now.

Wednesday was my last story slam in Edmonton. No one is probably going to notice and there wasn’t much fanfare about it but when you consider that over the past couple years I’ve participated in about 30 or maybe even 40 of these things (there are two a month in this city if you can believe it) it was getting very close to the time to stop. It wasn’t all the losing that was getting to me, but there was definitely a lot of losing, it was just that I had definitely become “that guy”. That guy who keeps showing up at story slams and ruining everyone’s good time by reading shitty stories he wrote. It was time to stop being that guy.

I won my very first story slam last June. It was after about two honest years of trying to win. The thing about that story slam and most others like it was that I never really cared about winning the thing- I just didn’t want to lose so badly. That night in June I was more concerned about who was winning the hockey game than who was winning the slam. The night I won my first story slam was also the night that the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup and, more importantly, the Vancouver Canucks lost the game and then burned up their own city. That was awesome.

I’ve said a lot in the past about story slams and what I think about them and what their uses can be. Making people be quiet and listen to me for a few minutes was a pretty nice power to have. It felt good (when they were actually paying attention) to hear the audience laugh at the times when they were supposed to laugh and then that moment in between when you finish the story and when they start clapping, that’s the moment when you really know how the story turned out. Maybe other writers out there know what I’m talking about.

There are other opportunities out there for me to read my work in public and I intend to bother the hell out of everybody in this city and elsewhere with my stories until they finally throw me in jail. The Edmonton Story Slam has been very nice to me and I suggest that if you haven’t been there to check out a story slam for yourself, you should. If you consider yourself a writer and you haven’t been up on that stage, you’re a coward. That’s all there is to it.

JLN

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