Afterword

This full moon wasn't last night, but it felt like it should have been.

This full moon wasn’t last night, but it felt like it should have been.

What is stage fright, anyway?

So last night was that thing.  The reading.  I spent the day with my brain in the overdrive of heightened anxiety, changed my clothes three times, my shoes four, and slopped half a gallon of product in my hair, in a futile battle with the humidity.  I was pretty sure I didn’t have to worry about how my words would be received, or how I’d sound, because surely I was going to have a stroke before it was my turn.

Husband offered to meet me down there.  Down, because the bar couldn’t be further from my apartment and still be in Manhattan.  No, thanks.  I’m one of those people.  When I’m nervous about something, I’m better off alone, because your moral support will likely be met by me biting your head off.  Cranky.  Bitchy, even.  That and the fact that I figured the reason I was doing this was to maybe, hopefully, connect with other writers.  I know myself.  If Husband was with me, it would be the perfect excuse to not speak to anyone, revert to my teenaged self, sit in back and make jokes about myself.  Man Child offered to go down with me.  No thanks.  Then he offered to just travel down with me.  Umm, maybe.  No, no, I’m a grown up, I don’t need an escort, I’m fine.  Are you sure?  Yes, thank you.  Are you really sure, because I’m going to start laundry otherwise?  Yes yes I’m sure.

Ten minutes before I left, I’m going to call Husband and have him meet me.  Oops, look at the time, he’s already on his way home, that wouldn’t be nice.  I’m good, I can do this.

Five minutes before I left, ummm, Man Child?  I changed my mind.  But you can’t stay.  He traveled downtown with me, and then encouraged me when I spent ten minutes standing outside, bemoaning the fact that I had remembered my camera but not the battery that would allow it to work.

I really have great kids.


I’ll be honest, this sign in the window is probably what got me through the door.  That and Man Child’s gentle shove.

At the entrance to the back room, where the event was being held, the producer was checking tickets.  I was nervous about the whole e-ticket thing. My name was already on his list, great. I’m scoping the room behind him, happy to see empty seats in back when he says, “Oh.  You’re reading.”  Was I supposed to mention that?  “Umm, yeah, I guess so.”  Damn, I’m smooth.

It’s a funny thing.  Once I was in, I felt acutely aware that I have never done this before, but not nervous.  Basically I was certain I was going to fuck up, drop my pages, lose my voice, have that stroke, yanno.  It wasn’t crowded, there were two featured writers and several open mic-ers.  The open mic folks were mostly poets.  Excellent, this way I was certain to not fit in.  I liked the way it was organized, open mic readings scattered throughout the evening with the featured writers in between.  (Featured meaning authors with books recently published/about to be published) I’m not sure what I expected, but it was a lively mix of “straight” poetry, spoken word, an excerpt from a graphic novel, excerpts from a flash essay collection, part of a short.  The crowd was mixed in age, sex, and ethnicity, also nice.

There was a microphone! Eek.  And others were introduced by the MC with a bit about them.  Crap, was I supposed to tell them something other than my name and here’s-my-eight-dollars?  Ah well.  I considered plugging Mrs Fringe before or after I read, but therewasamicrophone.  I just did it.  I read the opening few pages to Astonishing (probably about half the first chapter, it’s the one up on the blog here).  Everyone was quiet while I read, so either I held their attention, or they were taking the opportunity for a cat nap. Maybe they just couldn’t hear me, I didn’t get too close to that mic.  I’m from south Brooklyn ferChristssake, I can be plenty loud.

I met a few people who seemed quite nice. Many of those in the audience and those who went up are apparently regulars, but everyone was welcoming.  Not one pointed and snickered, or muttered, “poseur” as I went past.  If they did I didn’t hear them.  Success.

In any case, I felt like it went well.  I was surprised I couldn’t see the audience once I was up there, all I saw was lights, and that made it much easier.  More surprising, I didn’t feel intimidated while I was reading, I just…read.  Scenarios like this always surprise me, no one talking about the angst and futility of trying to get published, trade or otherwise.  It’s as if there’s an assumption that you and everyone else is doing it, you belong there.

I might even say I had fun.

 

18 comments

  1. YEAH YOU DID IT! Your kids are great (and your husband), I’m so glad everybody was so supportive of you. Though…I wonder now if I should use that sign as a writing prompt, and TRY to write a great story that starts with somebody eating a salad?

    I’m from New Jersey, so I understand the “I’m plenty loud” bit. There’s no mics at the readings I’ve done ^^

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    1. Thanks Jen! Yes, I’m very lucky to have a supportive family, Husband and kiddos ❤ lol, I think that sign would be an excellent prompt–it prompted me to read–after a beer, of course 😉 No mics at your readings? *jealous*

      Like

      1. Maybe I’ll inflict it on my writers when my library workshop starts up again in September 😉

        No mics! One of the places is the local arts council, so most frequently, the people I know in the Writer Scene here outnumber the strangers. The other place was at the local bookstore for a festival thing, so no mic. That was a little more nervewracking, as several local “published by bigger houses” authors were there, but they were very complimentary after. So that was nice!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I love that you know of and pursue these opportunities, that is fantastic! I’m not surprised to see you had good feedback 🙂 Sometimes I swear I can’t understand the line between published and not. :/

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    2. Yesterday, I kept thinking about about how it would feel to step up to the mic and stand there, pages in hand, about to read from your own work in front of an audience of strangers.

      You didn’t have to do it.

      You didn’t have to, but you did, you took that chance, stepped out of your comfort zone and into the limelight and for those few minutes you OWNED it, to which I say, Bravo, woman.

      Bravo.

      xoxo kk

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ❤ Thank you, kk. Honestly, I think it's easier to do this type of thing in front of strangers than in front of people you know. Actually, I think it's a benefit that comes from writing fiction that isn't "popular," genre fiction–you know going in that not everyone will like it, so it's just a matter of pushing forward and hoping your words strike a chord with another fringe-y person. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s funny, while I don’t write flash fiction, I’ve always thought of myself as someone who writes short; both full length mss and short stories always on the shorter end of desired word counts–but when I was trying to find something to read that would be six minutes or under? I felt like the blabber fingers of all blabber fingers 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations! How brave you all are to soldier on despite severe jitters.

    Stage fright has never been a problem for me. I’ve always love performing of any sort, but my friends who suffer tell me that it is simply awful. They don’t have strokes, but many of them do throw up before they go on stage – and sweat bullets. I don’t know if I could push through – proud to hear that you did!
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

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