Later in January is my writer’s groups public reading. A month ago I was being good; I printed out the piece I was going to read with every intention of practicing. I did so approximately once and ended up doing more editing. I’m still debating whether one particular line is necessary or a distraction. I will probably debate it until I actually get up to the podium.
My mom always asks to read what I write and I usually say no. So, in the spirit of holidays, I brought the piece I have to read aloud home for Christmas. My mom was thrilled, then suggested that I practice in front of my family. While a sound idea in theory, I got the shakes just thinking about it and, of course, refused.
The idea of reading in front of people I know actually sounds more horrifying than reading in front of people I don’t know. Well, it does right now. Come time for the reading, I’m sure I’ll swear just the opposite.
The last public reading I had to do was for my creative writing major in college. Part of the graduation requirements was do host a 20 minute reading and invite people to come. I remember some people packed rooms, some were theatrical in their readings, and one friend rented out a sound system and held hers outside in the quad so everyone could hear.
A friend and I chose to host a reading together…to spilt the cost of the wine. Unfortunately, friends did show up. One offered sit in the front row and paint her nails, like she had when I practiced, to make it as casual as possible. Again, I declined the well meaning “hey, we all love you so there’s no need to freak out” sentiment.
I wanted to crawl under the table, face my back to the audience and read that way. I was told that was not an option. So, I read facing them and my voice shook the entire time. OK, not the entire time. I swayed back and forth as I read and, for some reason, this action calmed me. When I realized that this action looked dumb, unprofessional and was probably distracting, I forced myself to stop and that’s when my voice started shaking. So, I ended up going back to swaying.
So, I envision swaying and shaking and tripping over my own tongue. The only saving grace that I can think of is that I’m not the grand finale…although I’m second or third from the end. Gulp.
I also envision me being very brave and inviting lots of people who I know won’t or can’t come…like all my out of state friends.
I’m not normally one who makes New Year’s resolutions, but I’ll give it a shot this year. I resolve to practice reading aloud and to do a better job at this reading than I did in college…or maybe to hire an actress that looks like me.
Safe and happy New Year to you all!