Elizabeth Sims, an award-winning author and contributing editor to Writer’s Digest, delivered her keynote speech entitled, “Perils and Payoffs: The Risky Business of Researching Fiction,” as part of the inaugural ReadOut event on the morning of Saturday, February 17 at the Gulfport Public Library.
Sims talked about practical techniques for locating and talking to experts to help authors make narratives more authentic. The concept of “stepping through the membrane” is a major theme that resonated with several listeners.
“The idea of an invisible membrane between aspects of life just burst upon me when I had an experience that was different,” said Sims. “I mentioned going from being a person walking along the street to being a street performer and the intense difference between those two things.
“In terms of being an author and crafting fictional material, these are the types of experiences that can feed your internal self. Being attuned to and open to having different experiences about human life that might be uncomfortable help you to develop as a human being and as a good craftsperson.”
Also on Saturday, 16 authors read short selections of their work, which consisted of fiction, non-fiction and poetry for lesbians.
On Sunday morning, Sims led a special 90-minute workshop on techniques that she uses for “Fearless Writing” that was followed by a panel discussion on the topic of “Why Write for Lesbians?”
The LGBTQ Resource Center, a project of the non-profit Circle of Friends of the library, produced the event that was chaired by Alison R. Solomon, a local author.
“Meeting new authors and maybe learning about a new genre in fiction” are two of the goals event planners had for attendees from the entire community, said Solomon. “Many authors have a wider audience than lesbians.”
The high-energy, three-day schedule was also designed for people to “come for an hour, come for the day or come for the whole weekend,” she said.
Solomon plans for ReadOut to become an annual event.