Author 1, Public Reading 0

Paparazzi and subject from the back, camera flashes blur the top of the picture

Red Carpet by Angela N. / CC BY 2.0

As you can tell from the photo, I went with a blue and green silk sari-inspired dress.


For those of you on the edge of your seats for my wardrobe choice: black boots, black pants, purple button up shirt with black camisole and understated black pearl jewelry. And Beth, while I didn’t spend all my time worrying about the buttons, I was convinced that the camisole would slip down and tease the audience with gaping cleavage. I might have to keep my eye out for a good public reading tunic for next year. Phew, next year!

So tonight was a success! I define success in three ways: no tripping (tongue or feet), no deer in the headlights, and no wardrobe malfunctions. Despite my camisole-cleavage fears, all went well.

I kept my head down, followed the words on the paper with my finger and shook internally. By the end, I was balanced on one leg and rotating the ankle of my slightly elevated leg so that I wouldn’t start tapping my toes. Luckily, all this was behind a podium so all the audience saw was the top of my head.

I forced myself to look up a couple times during the reading, but tried to go a little cross-eyed so that people stayed blurry and I couldn’t make out any faces.

At the end, I think they clapped for me. I really don’t remember hearing it, but think I would have remembered not hearing it. I handed the mic off as quickly as possible and hurried back to my seat and, on the way, saw my husband’s big grin and two thumbs up. Phew! Job well done.

There was some skittering on a few words, but nothing worse than what I normally do when talking to people. And, since one of the group members sped-read, I felt a little more confident going in to my piece.

I forced myself to read slowly and I think that helped steady my voice and made me feel marginally more secure up there. I tried some inflection and flirted with a male southern accent for the appropriate dialogue and that ended up sounding like, well, not male or southern. But the earth didn’t swallow me up.

Before leaving work this afternoon, I checked my email and saw that one of the members was sick and bowing out of the reading. He’d attached his piece and said that anyone or no one could read it, he didn’t particularly care.  Since the main character is male, I felt relieved that I wouldn’t be asked to read. However, when I showed up, I was asked to be his stand in for the group piece we were reading: one of the member’s graphic novel script. Mr. Sick was supposed to read the art directions…about 90% of the script.

While I had fretted over reading the missing members piece, the script didn’t make me blink at all. Sure, no problem. And when I read it (directly after my piece…the grande finale), I didn’t feel any butterflies. My voice felt loud and clear.

It was as if I didn’t care about the piece, so I didn’t care how I read it or how people reacted to it. But that’s not true. I really liked the piece and wanted it to come across well. I suppose since it wasn’t my own sweat and tears, the pressure was off.

Oh, and if any of you were wondering, the other writer’s varied as much in their dress as the suggestions I’d received. Although, sadly, no beatniks showed up.


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