Jay Thompson is from Chicago where live storytelling is a big deal. That's one of the cities that regularly hosts events such as The Moth, where true stories are shared live at a mic in front of an audience. So when she moved here, she wanted to bring storytelling with her.
Thompson is a grad student at The University of South Florida, working on her MFA in creative writing, which she also teaches. She and her classmates, T.J. Murray and Colleen Kolba, created First Draft to promote live local storytelling. But why is storytelling so important in contemporary society?
In Thompson's words, "I've heard a lot of writers say they don't know what they think until they've written it down. I think that's true for a lot of writers, I also think it's true for a lot of people, when it comes to speaking, and I'm sure you know this working in radio. Sometimes, people don't know what they think or believe or feel until they've heard themselves say it out loud."
At the start, Thompson hosted First Draft in her home, but now the live literary event happens the third Thursday of every month at Southern Brewing in Seminole Heights. This month's event is Thursday, July 21, at 8 p.m. and the theme is "Summer Camp." Scheduled to appear are Cathy Salustri, a writer and editor at Creative Loafing, Riley Passmore, an MFA creative writing graduate of USF, and local writer Austin Scott Collins.
Thompson said they want to expand the event to include everyday people. "We want to book storytellers...regular people who are willing to come up with a story, practice it at home and then tell it without ever writing it down, but so far, we haven't had any takers on that."