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Public Reading


Queen_Victoria_1887Happy Belated Birthday to Queen Victoria (I’m only two days late), and thanks for the day off last week.  My man and I have decided that Mondays off are much better than Fridays off, because you get to enjoy them longer when you realize (every day) that it isn’t Tuesday, it’s Wednesday etc.   So do enjoy your Memorial Day week this week!

I gave a reading on May 13th as part of my library’s Writer’s Collective Evening of Readings.  It was a huge success in terms of the number of people who came out to hear us, and the polish and remarkable diversity of writing–some poetry, some essays, and stories from the whole gamut of genres. 

For my own reading, I chose the opening of The Colonial and the Cottontail, which as you may know by now, is part of the Northern Roses and Southern Belles Civil War anthology coming out this July from The Wild Rose Press.  The story I think went over very well.  Actual laugh out loud laughter, and what sounded like more than polite applause at the end.  Me, personally, not so much I’m afraid. 

Elizabeth_Adela_Forbes_-_The_Open_BookI don’t think of myself as shy, and strangely if I was sitting down I’d have been fine, but I cannot stand in front of a group of people and look around at them.  Yes, we had a podium so I had something to hang onto, there was a microphone so I didn’t have to yell, and the room wasn’t that big. 

And the thing is, I’d practiced.  I practiced the reading itself, and knew I had plenty of time.  I practiced looking up from the page and finding my place again quickly.  I even practiced looking up and smiling (just in case they didn’t realize a particular part was supposed to be amusing).  And not only had I practiced, but I’ve done this sort of thing several times now.  I knew I’d be shaking, and was prepared for that.  Still, once I got up there, my eyes were glued to the page.  Throughout the reading my brain said, “look up!”  My eyes responded with, “no damn way.”  My voice and reading ability didn’t fail me, and I’m quite proud of my story.  Only my eyes let me down. 

So, any suggestions?  Is this just me or have others experienced something similar?



  1. I used to do a lot of public speaking and I can honestly say it never bothered me a bit–until I had to read my own work out loud! Then my knees started knocking, my voice shaking…it was a nightmare. I guess when it’s our own work it’s different, we’re too invested in it.

    I guess the only suggestion I’d have is exactly what you did–practice a lot ahead of time. But since you got laugh out loud laughter at your reading, I’d say it was a smashing success!

    Great post, Jenn!

  2. I can’t give you any suggestions, Jenn, because I would’ve been absolutely terrified and likely would’ve ended up mumbling incoherently.

    Congrats on being able to stand up and read in front of a crowd! You’re braver than me, my friend.

  3. Thanks, guys. Next time, I’m going to try concentrating on not worrying about looking at the audience. No big deal, they’re there to listen–not to have a meaningful ‘connection’ with me, right? Anyway, I’m hopeful that by not stressing over it, I’ll be able to relax–thereby able to look around at the audience. You know, by the 500th time, I might get this down!

  4. Isabel Roman says:

    I’m not sure looking at them is 100% necessary. Maybe a joke about it in the beginning about how you’ve tried looking up but your eyes don’t cooperate or stage fright. Even Barbara Streisand gets it! Then again, I’m not sure I could’ve done that, lol. so kudos to you!

  5. DianeG says:

    As you know Jenn, I disagree with your preception of how the reading went.

    The audience responded, therefore, you did a better job than you think you did.

  6. Hi Diane, thanks for posting. No, you’re right, the reading went well. I’m just disappointed in me, not the reading.

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