Writers Night focuses on the surprises in stories
The unexpected directions that stories can take will be highlighted during an upcoming event at the Springwater Grange.
The 17th annual Writers Night at the grange is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, April 20, and will feature readings from Stevan Allred, Joanna Rose, Tanisha Wallace Porath and Brian Biggs. All of the pieces focus on the theme of unintended consequences.
"It's evocative without reservation. You can go a million different directions from there," Allred said, discussing the theme.
Pieces that will be read during Writers Night discuss everything from parenthood to the afterlife.
Porath will read her essay "Almost Sixteen," which focuses on her relationship with her daughter.
"It's the unintended consequence of your daughter trying to murder you as a single parent," she said. "She's constantly going and going. I'm tired. I adore her, but she's 16 and unaware of anything but her and her needs."
Biggs will read from his upcoming memoir "Prove My Soul: Another Side to the Vietnam War." He was was stationed in Vietnam as a marine lieutenant 1966-67, and returned to the area several times during the early 2000s to visit the people he met during the war.
During a visit in 2004, he attempted to take a photo and the police held his group for several hours while they interrogated someone in his party.
Rose will read an essay focused the ways in which the books her mother wanted her to read during her childhood influenced the rest of her life. "The reading material she guided me to led me in some unintended directions," she said, noting that her mother didn't want her to read the "Nancy Drew" books as a third grader because she said they were all the same, which Rose thought was false. "It fed into a developing attitude I had about not trusting grown ups."
Rather than "Nancy Drew," Rose's mother wanted her to read "Alice in Wonderland."
"I loved it, but it wasn't a very appropriate book for a third grader. Alice is always doing something to get herself in trouble. Those books really fed a rebellious attitude in me, and sent me off in a rabbit hole that's lasted my whole life," she said.
Allred will read from his novel "The Alehouse at the End of the World," in which many elements of the afterlife are unexpected. The scene he will share focuses on a character who goes to a bonfire while on a quest, which leads to something unexpected happening for someone else.
"It's a scene with humor, and then suddenly it's shockingly violent," he said, adding that he appreciates the juxtaposition.
All four writers agreed that unintended consequences benefit a story. "It catches the reader off guard, which is right where you want the reader," Rose said. "If the story suddenly turns dark, and they had laughed earlier, that creates conflict in the heart of the reader. . .it provides the reader with their own emotional journey."
"The best part of writing is taking a reader on a journey that they don't expect," Porath added.
Unintended consequences can affect the writer of a story, as well. "The reader might get something out of the work you didn't know was there. They're really going on their own journey," Rose said.
The 17th annual Estacada Writers Night is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the Springwater Grange, 24591 S. Springwater Road. After the event, host Stevan Allred will invite the audience to a gathering at his Estacada home. Writers Night is free and sponsored by the Estacada Arts Commission.