I'm an anxious person. I hate talking on the phone, I hate talking in person. I used to have anxiety attacks when I was in high school and had to present anything to the class.
So what'd I do? I enrolled in a Forensics class (the kind that gets you in front of the class, becoming emotional, writing things, reading things, presenting something each week). Then enrolled in a communications class. I can now combat the urge to vomit, ignore the fact that my heart is beating out of my chest. It makes me feel like superwoman.
Since that time, I still get anxious when I know I have something to interject to a crowd. But, I still push myself out of my comfort zone because I feel my voice deserves to be heard.
With attending AWP for the last two years, I've also set the goal of being on a panel at some point. Which means, I'll get to speak to a room full of people. Which means, I'll need to talk clearly, slowly, and intelligently. Why? Because I have things to say, and I would love to discuss the marvels of writing, or the chaos of trying to land an agent, or getting rejection letters and KNOWING that I'd make it through (Oh my Gosh!! It's not the end of the world!).
But I have a problem.
And that is reading out loud, or even speaking out loud.
I read too quickly and my mind fumbles around with the words, and I put in words that aren't there. I need to relax, and slow down, and think "They'll still listen to you."
So, because of this, I've been calling my mother and reading her chapters of my new novel. I've been calling my sister during her 20 hour drive and reading selections. I have my not-boyfriend sit beside me and listen to me read. I try to read out loud when I'm alone, (though that's rare now, so I usually find myself reading to my dog, Baxter, who is a lovely listener) because when the moment comes, I want to be able to speak in front of my peers (other writers), and know that I am worth listening to.
So...if you ever get bored and wanna hear a reading...lemme know :)