I write like that

Photo by Brandon Dilbeck

I write like that: in fits and stops.

Bits of prose, poetry, and rhyme wind along the road to nowhere. There is no ending, yet. There is just a feeling I must put on paper. This feeling spills from my finger tips, into my notebook or on the screen. Captured. 

I am crushing it.

I can’t keep up. These swirls of words inside my mind sound radiant. Magnificent. If only I could keep up with my racing thoughts, but not edit. No, just let inspiration flow intimately, brilliantly until my body is wrung out, sore from sitting in the same position for hours. Words flow until I have nothing left to give.

I travel from lush, memory palaces to bare, brittle branches swaying upon brisk gusts on an autumn morning. I lean into the vortex to see if there is more, and tumble down the rabbit hole. I let myself be pulled in and engulfed in arc and flame. Again, I am blinded by the ebony of darkness – an absence of light and clarity.

How did it come to this?

A self-imposed bipolar diagnosis. Once calm like the blue-white sea waters on the travel brochure promising magic, and then manic like a puppy who can’t contain herself when a familiar scent walks into the room. From this to that. From cool detached observance, to the hot, angry tear of flesh rippling with sarcasm. From the prickly numbness of my hand falling asleep, to the certainty of meditative uncomfortableness.

I awaken.

And pop a lemon drop in my mouth, which always reminds me of my grandmother Grace.

6 tips to audition for Listen To Your Mother

LTYM Rochester 2015

AuditionIf you’ve signed up to audition for Listen To Your Mother (and aren’t sure what you got yourself into), I have six tips to boost your confidence for your best Listen To Your Mother audition. As a Listen To Your Mother Rochester alum, I know that even if you’re a little hesitant about signing up and reading your work aloud, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Listen To Your Mother starts with a true story on the theme of motherhood. Add a bit of courage and you’re ready to share your true story with the organizers who are casting for the second annual Listen To Your Mother show in Rochester.

Your first step is to sign up for an audition – at Writers & Books March 6, 10, or 12  – here (follow the prompts to sign up with volunteer spot).

Read on for my 6 tips for getting ready to audition for Listen To Your Mother:

1. Get inspired. 

Check out the stories on YouTube from LTYM Rochester 2015Here you can get an idea for the tone of your piece, or to spark an idea. Think about how you will connect with an audience. Draw on your everyday life for a rich source of stories. Unsure of where to start? Ask questions like: What did you feel when you first learned you were going to be a mom? How did it feel to see your firstborn shaving? What did you learn from your mom about life?

2. Write with authenticity.

Write a rant, reflection, memory or mom wisdom. Your piece can be funny, deeply touching, or both. Make sure that your story is about some aspect of motherhood.

3. Edit yourself, but not too much.

Now, you have this big, beautiful, true story (or perhaps a shitty first draft). The next step is to whip it into shape. Show (don’t tell) how you felt in that raw, vulnerable, imperfect moment that your motherhood story took place. Kill the darlings that don’t ring true to your journey. Read your story aloud and shape it until you love it.

4. Practice, but not too much.

Practice reading your story aloud a few times to give you confidence, familiarity and the right amount of time: five minutes. Give yourself a pep talk. Remember you will be reading your story, and not memorizing it like a speech. 

5. Speak in your own voice.

Don’t try to be anyone other than you. Do try to enunciate and project your voice. Know this: when you step up to audition you are enough, and your voice is enough just the way it is.

6. It’s okay to cry.

While reading my story at the podium, the words made me relive the heartbreak and hope I felt battling infertility. And I cried until I caught my breath and could speak again. Showing raw emotion is what made my story “Tangled In Leather” personal, authentic and touching.

Remember: Write your true story. Practice reading aloud a couple of times. Make sure it’s no longer than five minutes. Be authentic. 

The second annual Listen To Your Mother show in Rochester is May 7th at The Lyric Theatre. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale in March.

What do you think? Share your thoughts: on my blog, Facebook, or @kristinebruneau. And don’t forget to share and spread this story with your friends. Thanks for reading!

The rest of the story: Newcomers to Rochester arts

Rochester artsRecently, the Democrat and Chronicle published my story: A peek behind the scenes at newcomers in Rochester’s arts  The piece is essentially a round up of the men and women new to Rochester arts and cultural organizations, but I’d like to share a few other thoughts that didn’t make the final story.

Cultural organizations improve our quality of life and are important to our economic viability. Most arts and cultural leaders strive to ensure a unified organizational vision while facing many challenges: pressure to stay ahead of funding and technology trends, improve fiscal self-reliance, and overcome operational losses. Our arts and cultural leaders know that executing against such goals takes professionals who bring their unique talents to bear. However, it will be important to prevent staff and volunteer burnout from too many demands and pressures to constantly perform at top levels. 

Leaders and board members will need to trust their people. Bringing in talented professionals is one thing; allowing them to come up with new ideas and try new things will also require faith in the process. Some initiatives will fail, but organizations can learn from these failures, share what they’ve learned and emerge stronger than before while remaining relevant to the community. 

Over the years, I’ve observed nonprofit leadership trying to zig-zag the downturn instead of really looking into innovative ways to address issues head-on and galvanize their troops with honesty and transparency. Years ago I was very involved in the arts and cultural community. I covered the arts and theatre for DAKA – a Rochester arts and cultural magazine, volunteered for the the wildly popular (and often imitated) First Fridays at the MAG, eventually serving as chair of First Fridays, and then leading the MAG’s Averell Council as president. I loved and supported Rochester’s dynamic arts community. Over time, however, I saw volunteers and front line staff suffer from burnout because of too many unrealistic demands and pressures to constantly perform at top levels without proper support both from senior leaders and board members. Eventually, I, too, needed time off from volunteering.

As I moved from single life, to married with a family, my love for Rochester arts and culture never wavered. Many women and men I’ve spoken with have shared their experiences of visiting places like George Eastman Museum, going to exhibits such as Peering Into Infinity at the MAG, watching performances such as The Nutcracker performed by Rochester City Ballet with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Bach Children’s Chorus, and socializing at events like RMSC After Dark, plus many, many more.

Kudos to all of the talented professionals and volunteers who show up day after day to create unforgettable arts and cultural experiences for the rest of us. 

What do you think?

This is my best work today. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please feel free to share it with your friends or send me a comment. You can also post a comment on my blog or Facebook, or tweet me @kristinebruneau.