As my name was closer to being called, butterflies erupted in my tummy, dancing and fluttering and twisting round and round. Why was I nervous? I’d read my book in front of strangers before, hadn’t I? What makes this any different?
The difference I believe is the situation. At a book reading, the audience had come to listen to me specifically. They wanted to learn more about me and my work. At this semi-informal stand-up mic event held in a friend-of-a-friend’s home it was different. I really only knew three people there and the event was a gathering of other friends sharing their poetry and songs. Would they really want to hear me, an interloper on the scene?
Then my name was called. I got up. I brought my book to the front. I said hello. I introduced the book and I started reading. I was reading aloud a scene I hadn’t practiced having realized in the middle of the event that my fifteen minute selection was too long for the program. So here I was, sitting on a chair, in front of a mic, holding a flashlight over my book and reading.
Luckily for me it was a scene I’d heard many times over as this was the scene I’d given as an audition piece for prospective narrators. I knew what I needed to do when – laugh, pant, shout. My shaking hands steadied, my heart rate returned to normal, and the story flowed. My friend recorded me at this event, and although I look a bit like a floating head that would fit right in at Hogwarts, I assure you I was fully present.
Lessons I Learned:
- Nerves come from thinking you’re unprepared. When you realize that the words you’re sharing are your own and that you do know them, everything falls into place as easily as breathing.
- Strangers are patient and interested. There’s no need to be nervous, because whether they’re at your book reading or open mic event, everyone is there to hear something they hadn’t heard before.
- These strangers are also amazingly talented and you’ll hear things you hadn’t before, too! There were singers, poets, and even another author at the event. Mingle and talk to everyone and you’ll make new friends and have a good time.
Overall, it was exhilarating and it was fun. I look forward to the next coffee house and poetry night where I may find myself.