One of my goals in the New Year has been to not flake on myself. Another goal is to create habits for myself, especially in terms of writing. One of the things I have planned to use as a tool in creating my habits are The Moth Storyslams. I first went to a Moth Storyslam in August 2007, and I was selected to tell a story that night. I have repeatedly intended to go to more, but I haven't. This year, however, with four per month, I plan to use the themes as a sort of weekly writing workshop: a bit of structure to force me to create some sort of story for each Storyslam. I may not actually always go, and I'm sure that even if I made it to each one, I wouldn't be picked to perform every time. But it's a habit I plan to create.
While I did my part Monday evening, sadly The Moth did not play along. The first Monday of each month includes a Storyslam at Union Hall in Park Slope. The theme for last night was "Deadlines," and I was struggling with how to approach it. On more than one occasion, I've had a great idea (I thought) for a story that I simply never got around to developing into something that I would be comfortable trying to perform, and so, I didn't go at all. (Even though you by no means have to have a story in order to attend.) But I was determined not to do that last night. I was going to prepare something, even if it wasn't perfect. I invited a bunch of different friends, not because I wanted people to see me if I got selected, but just because I knew if I had people planning to show up with me, I wouldn't flake on going.
So I spent some time earlier today putting everything that had coalesced inside my brain down onto paper. My process with writing a story for the Moth is to first, write it; second, edit it; third, copy it by hand from computer into a journal, writing at least a bit from memory; and fourth, determining from memory larger topic bullet points that I can use later to recall the broad strokes I don't want to forget for in the realm of storytelling, it's keeping those larger story points that is most important.
I did all this on Monday. I came up with a story with which I was reasonably satisfied. And I didn't get to tell it. But actually, that wasn't the problem with the evening because when it comes to going to a Moth Storyslam, there is never a guarantee that you'll get to tell your story. However, what was disappointing at Union Hall tonight was that it's obvious the organizers are still a) not used to Union Hall and/or b) don't monitor the line to get in at all.
The event was scheduled to have doors open at 7:30 and stories beginning at 8. When I arrived at 7:30, my friend Jess was already in line. She was outside Union Hall with maybe 30 people in front of her. As we waited without moving at all until close to 7:45, the line behind us kept getting longer, eventually (I believe) reaching the corner of 5th and Union. There had to be at least 100 people behind us.
At about 8:05, people suddenly started coming back upstairs and saying, "It's sold out." I'm glad The Moth is becoming so popular that they're selling out and have added two new regular shows in NYC per week, but if you're going to become that popular and work in really small comedy/music club-type rooms, you have to monitor your lines better. When they said sold out and nobody else would get in, there were still at least 30-40 people ahead of me and the aforementioned 100 behind. There is no reason I should have even been allowed to wait in line. There is no reason that at some point, some one from The Moth didn't come up to us and say, "I'm sorry, but we're never going to be able to get everyone in, and chances are, we'll have to cut it off before it gets to you." Even if that doesn't make me leave, it certainly would let me know that I was waiting at my own risk.
This is no remarkably new idea. The Public Theater does it for Shakespeare in the Park every summer. We do it with our Rush lines at Tribeca as well. Sometimes people choose not to leave, just in case. But to know that you likely won't get in, at least then, it's your own fault.
Regardless, considering what my story wound up being about, it's a bit of Alanis-Morrisette-ironic (i.e., really, more of just a bummer) that I didn't even make it in, let alone have a chance to actually tell my story. In fact, my closing sentence might even qualify the evening for full-fledged irony. But along with all the rest of the new-for-2009 things I'm trying, I won't let this discourage me. Or something. I don't know.
Regardless, here's a written version of the story I would have told had I made it in and been selected. Hopefully, I'll get to the Nuyorican early enough next Tuesday.
When you don't get selected to tell your story, they usually call out your name at the end of the evening and ask you to yell out your first line. Mine is, "I am an anal procrastinator." The whole thing, after the jump.