I recently went to a reading organized by the Literary Writers Network, a literary network in Chicago. The association “offers a bimonthly Chicago writing group coupled with an online writing community and special literary reading events throughout the year. It also publishes the literary publication 10,000 Tons of Black Ink.

The reading featured five local writers, including one Northwestern alum. Two of them read excerpts from their novels, one from a short story, one from an essay, and one from a full-length non-fiction piece. All of their writing was inspiring. Something I admired about their readings was how they each articulated and inflected the stories with the practice of a storyteller. This may sound intuitive, but it is easy to read monotonously, especially when nervous.

My favorite part about the reading, however, was actually its location. It was hosted in The Book Cellar, a well-known indie bookstore in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. The atmosphere of a small room filled with books was inspiring; I was practically breathing words. There was a break halfway between the readings and I browsed the shelves to find nearly ten books to add to my wish list. To add another of my favorite things to the experience, The Book Cellar has its own cafe with food, drinks, and beer and wine for those over 21.

My Friday night was spent with books and food in a wonderful, bustling neighborhood of Chicago. All of it was inspiring to keep writing and to get to the point where I can be the nervous author reading in front of a group of twenty strangers. That, folks, is the dream.

And in other news, the winner of my contest is Vickie Motter! Congratulations!