Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stage Flight

This past Wednesday night, I made my spoken-word debut at a coffeehouse in Brooklyn, reading aloud from an excerpted version of the first formal memoir essay I ever wrote. Even though I’ve always done it when asked, I’ve never loved public speaking. Or speaking in general – that’s why I write.

Before Wednesday, all of my public speaking experiences had involved the presentation of boring work/professional-related information. This was the first time I’ve ever recited my creative writing, which is more of a risk, particularly when it’s non-fiction material of the personal pain variety.

I haven’t been to many live performing arts events that started right on time - it caught me off guard when this one did. And I was reader #2 so (thanks to all of the subway delays that got me there later than planned) there wasn’t enough time to get buzzed up before taking the mike.

I also didn’t have any reading glasses with me. A few nights earlier (and two hours after my last posting about how I bought a pair of drug-store reading glasses that did me wrong), my real, prescription glasses irretrievably broke when they fell from the top of my head while I was dancing to the new Pink song. And I wasn’t able to get the new frames and lenses in time for the big premiere.

When it was my turn, I could feel my hands shaking for the first several minutes, but I gradually started to have a damn good time. It’s empowering (especially in front of the right audience) to deliver a proclamation, announcing who you are and why; what you’ve been through and how you’ve coped and conquered. One thing’s for sure - I’m not afraid to do this kind of thing anymore.

I’m a compulsive list-maker. I draft lists about everything – weekly tasks to complete, groceries to buy, favorite books and musicians, possible first and middle names for my future daughter. Years ago, I meticulously composed a list of things I want to do/experiences I want to have before I’m cremated. Midway down, there’s a line about wanting to give a literary reading in New York City. Being able to cross things off these lists is turning out to be so much more fun and interesting than it was to cobble them together in the first place.


  1. Is it something you want to do again, or something to cross off the "bucket list"? You sound as though you ended up genuinely enjoying yourself. (Is what you read somewhere in the archives of "The Roving Retorter"?) I resolved once to act in a community theatre production because I had been requiring my students to pick scenes from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" or "Macbeth" and act them out in class, and felt I should get a better sense of their fears/reservations, but that one stint on stage was more than enough for me!

  2. Wish I could've been there. Now I'm sure you're revved up to get out there and do it again.I'd love to see this "Life's To-Do List" one day. I tried making one up myself, but I lost the energy. Must get back on that one of these days. :o)
    XXOO, Lauren