It wasn’t really public, but there were over thirty people, and I didn’t know most of them. And they were all writers, many of them published. It was the Writers Federation of New Brunswick’s Sunday event of Wordspring 2013
I told myself I shouldn’t be nervous. Right. I am currently teaching close to thirty community college students a couple of courses — Project Management and SQL Server with Oracle. I have read the scene I read this morning to a writing group. I have read my work to groups maybe 30 times in the past couple of years. I have shared the scene in a workshop with nine other writers including our local writer-in-residence. This was a safe audience, an audience of writers who know what it is like to stand up and read, who know what rejection is. It is a crowd that I saw support each other with unrestrained applause all weekend.
Yes, I was very nervous.
I joined the Writers Federation Of New Brunwick on Friday. I met close to thirty writers on the weekend for the first time. I chatted with, drank wine and beer with, and generally mingled with a room full of writers all more experienced than myself, at least a dozen published, some very well known such as Riel Nason, Sherry Fitch, and David Adams Richards. I answered the question “what do you write” most elegantly with a “duh.”
I felt I owed everyone a proper introduction by reading a complete scene. It was too long, but what the hell.
I made a mistake of dressing warmly. I wanted to burst out laughing as I read about a character sweating bullets in a hot room as the drips fell off my forehead onto my glasses and off my nose onto my page. [LOL] Yeah, it was a quiet crowd, no laughing, no approving moans, no acknowledgement at all, almost. Do they like it? Do they hate it? Do I sound like a goofball up there? That was the hardest part. I read for fiteen minutes, struggled reading my own prose, got a polite applause, and I sat down.
I didn’t tell these people I’m half blind and can barely read my words as my shaky hands fumble with the pages. Good God. I can’t wait until my Canada Writes submission is rejected next month so I can publish it, maybe even here. It’s about my bout with vision. Ever go blind in an eye? It’s another reason I told myself not to be nervous. There are much worse things to be nervous about than embrassing yourself reading your novel to a group of professional writers.
I also madly edited the scene prior to driving out to the country market where we ate breakfast and read open mic format. I’d really love to have had a mic though. I have a quiet voice and I do not like to raise it. I had a character with the last name Knopf. I picked it because one of our NaNoWriMo participants was named Knopp and I just used it because. I then wrote a scene involving Mark Knopfler, so I changed it to Knopf. It’s a story about learning to read, and MC recognized the pattern. Of course the different pronounciations confuse him. But, whenever I read it aloud, it sounds like I’m choking on a giant sausage. And no, don’t read anything into that statement. I changed all the occurances to something I could say — Morgan. I need to sometime settle on a name. I’ll take any suggestions for the name of a fictional brewery, thanks in advance.
I’m happy I read. I’m not happy with struggling, but I bet I still sounded better than DAR *grin* Pfft. People heard my story, and while I shouldn’t expect pats on the back by everyone, I did get some. I fulfilled my need to introduce my writing to these people. Whether they like it or not does not really matter. They can now attach a story to a person, to a face. They can read my name and know a little of what I am about. Writers respect that. I respect writers who share their work, good or bad. And I now feel at least a little bit respected.
I did get a very emotional response by the Polar Bear lady, Lisa Dalrymple. Wow, I can’t thank her enough. It wasn’t much, just a comment, but it confirmed a focal point in my scene, and it told me I have work to do to complete that particular circle. Not that many hours ago I played out the other half, the … completion of an idea. I am being abstract for a reason. You will have to buy my book to learn more about the lunchbox.
I don’t think I am ready to share this scene yet. I’d love to. I’m tempted to. But I’m scared to. I’m not scared of sharing my writing, but I write about certain things in a somewhat negative light. I am anti-x. It’s not because I am. It’s because my narrator is somewhat unreliable. My main character is unreliable. The negatives may resolve themselves, and I do not wish to only post one half of a circle. Kapish?
Writers want adolations for their work. At least I do. From watching many readings this weekend, many over the past few years, I do know that anybody that gets up there to read is appreciated. And it’s necessary in this business. It’s necessary to put your work forward, if you want to sell it, if you want it read. As one of the participants on the weekend said, nobody is going to come around knocking at your door asking if you have any novels to sell.
I took step one. Now I’m waiting for that phone call.