Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Reading Out Loud In Public

So I'm on this book tour. This means that, even though I haven't been writing posts over here, I have been contributing all kinds of stuff to other people's blogs. Over the last month I did several interviews and guest posts all while prepping my Shakespeare Camp (more on that later) and readying myself for my very first public reading.

If you're interested in the blog tour, I'll put a list of the posts/reviews that are already out at the bottom of this one.

Anyway, several months ago, I booked a public reading. I'd be appearing at Spalding University where I got my MFA, where I first sent in Awesome Jones as a raw manuscript, where I took the first fifteen pages of it to my very first writing workshop, and where I handed the book over to two talented, amazing authors (Crystal Wilkinson and Nancy McCabe) to read and comment. Now, a few years later, I would be returning to my writing home and reading from something that, while intensely personal, was also collaborative--I couldn't have written the book I did without the help of my mentors and writer BFF at Spalding.

I had months to prepare. I figured it would be a breeze.

Then, as the date of the reading drew closer, I realized how wrong I'd been. The months zipped by as I edited my next release, outlined the second Awesome Jones, scrapped that outline, did the blog tour, prepped the Shakespeare Camp, and got caught up with general, stressful life stuff. Suddenly, it was two days before the reading and I'd only managed to practice a handful of times.

Ok, here's the other thing. I was an actress. I grew up backstage and performed from the time I was a little girl. I never had issues with stage fright. I might get a few butterflies in the curtains but when my cue came, I strode on stage, found the light, and delivered like a pro. But, it's not the same when I read my own work. According to my brain, it's a wholly alien thing. My throat closes up. My palms sweat. My vision tunnels. My whole body betrays me. It's like all those years on stage never even happened.

So, sitting there, knowing my turn was next I started thinking to myself, "You can do this. You were Juliet. You were Beatrice. You were Meg. You can do this. It's just a few pages. You can do this. You can do this."

And when I got up there... Yeah, my voice cracked. My hands shook. And then I looked out into the audience and saw the people who had accepted me into their community and made me feel like it was ok to say that, "Yes, I am a writer," and I kept going. And it got better. I got more comfortable. I made them laugh. I slowly regained my ability to "feel" an audience. I gained purchase and I rode the wave. I breathed. I read.

Was I as clear or confident as when I was Juliet or Beatrice or Meg? No. But then I was burying myself in another character--here I was baring my soul to my family and friends and a ton of strangers and at the end they clapped and hugged me and lots of us cried.

Every reading from here on out will be different. I know that. I had a unique, beautiful experience with the people I loved and, for the most part, from now on I'll be talking to a room that includes my husband and some lady who wandered in from the rain. That's ok. I can hold this one close and remember that, "Yes, I am a writer."

That Blog Tour Stuff:
The Silver Petticoat: Interview
Watch Play Read: Review
Sheila Deeth Blog Guest Post: Love In A Superhero World
Bee's Knees Review: Review
Seers, Seraphs, and Immortals: Interview
Jorie Loves A Story: Review
Jorie Loves A Story: Interview
Workaday Reads Guest Post: Top Ten Superpowers
Beauty In Ruins: Character Post from Frank
I Smell Sheep Guest Post: Five Superpowers I Wouldn't Want
On Cloud Eight and a Half: Character Post from Julia
Come Selahway With Me: Interview
Fantastical Adventures Through The Paper Realm: Review

There are still more to come and I'll try to be better about posting them now that life is (slightly) less hectic!


  1. Keep living life so vibrantly AshleyRose! 'So good to hear how well things are going! *hugs*

  2. That is so awesome! I'm sure your reading went great!


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