Thursday, July 21, 2011

Overcoming Anxiety

I wrote a few months back about how I try to PUSH MYSELF out of my COMFORT ZONE, and how I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to reading. Tonight, I took a huge step in the direction of overcoming that:

Dressed in girl shorts and a nice shirt with make up on my face, I stood before a small crowed in a coffee shop in Nags Head, North Carolina. Granted 90% of the people there were to see me (I'm not kidding, my sister, and several friends showed up and rocked my world)...but I prepared to read when the mediator said, "Lynne, are you ready?". (Also--when he asked for my name, I said Lynne, and he asked "L-y-n-n?" and I said "L-y-n-n-E" and he was like "It's not like the spelling matters as long as I know who I'm calling, right?" And I thought about Kellie...and how sometimes spelling really does matter.... It was nice to know she was still with me tonight.)

Before I read one of my pieces, I showed the audience my paper, which looked something like this:

Those scribbles? Those notes saying Breathe or Look Up are tricks that I learned from my high school communications teacher. She pushed me to read slowly (though I hear I was still a bit fast tonight, I'll work on it!), to look at my audience, and to just breathe. Though my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest, and my face got wicked red, I read what I wrote, mostly about my life.

And then was asked to read more.

When I read and looked at the crowd (a few times), I caught eyes with people...they were actually listening to me. Like, really. It was amazing and I felt high. 

I ended up reading a total of three poems (Smoke and Mirrors, Revolutions, Hands) and three short stories (Airplanes..which actually made a couple of people in the audience cry, which was AWESOME, especially because they'd read these pieces before, Sleeping Arrangements, and Good Girls and Bad Guys).

When all was said and done, I was approached by the mediator who gave me his card and told me that he'd love to have me for the next Open Mic, and that he really, really liked my writing. He also told me some information for Dare County Arts Council (like when they meet and stuff, and how they have critique groups! Yay!). So...after this, I was beaming and then approached by another man.

He, too, was a reader, and there were a couple of his poems that I really liked, and he told me that I did really, really well, and said that I came across very confident (funny, because I was scared shitless).  He said that my pacing was good, and that I didn't stumble over my words! Yay!

Moral of this very long story is...I'm pushing myself, every day to be a better writer.

But being a writer, isn't just writing. It's speaking, it's going out there and making yourself known, even if you start off in a small coffee shop that you work nearly 40 hours a week at. It's being brave when you'd rather go home and take a nap, or find it hard to catch your breath. It's writing words like Breathe and Look Up on your papers, because every step you take will push you in the right direction.

On a side note, the saddest thing about tonight is that a few select people weren't able to make it. The biggest one being my little man, Baxter:

I think when I get published, I'm going to try to find a place that is pet friendly so he can come with me. :)


  1. It is amazingly tough to read in front of people. My lurches evertime. Congrats on getting it done and I think I'm going to steal your idea of writing little notes on the side.

  2. @The East Coaster--It is incredibly hard to read in front of people. I always think my heart will beat out of my chest (literally, I have heart the sleep and caffeine blog). But thank you for the congrats, and feel free to steal my idea. It helps me, a lot. Most times I'll run a highlighter over things so when I read, I see the bright colors and it reminds me to just breathe, look up, and slow down.

    Good luck!


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