Monday, October 11, 2010


This past weekend was a long weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving. A lot of things didn't go as planned. I did a lot - not much of what I'd set out to do, and I learned a lot. Here's a story about one of the unexpected things I did this thanksgiving weekend.

I learned that I have courage, and I don't back down when given a challenge. In fact, if I'm challenged, my courage goes up. Here's what happened:

This Friday, David and I drove up after work to the little town I visit sometimes for my job. My friend (who is the most amazing musician you have evah evah seen) was playing at an open mic up there, and we pretty much just wanted to hang out. Well, after a couple glasses of wine and a couple hours of watching artists get up on stage and do their thing, two ladies from my office who know I'm writing a book added my name to the performance list.

I only found out because the two of them were giggling and pointing so I saw my name up on the whiteboard. Confused (and, I'll admit, a little annoyed), I was like "Um...what would you like me to do?" They said I should read an excerpt or something to promote my book.

"You're an artist! Be artistic!" they said when I told them that I didn't have any of my work with me.

Briefly, I considered erasing my name. But then, it occured to me that I was an artist. So, why the hell not!? I had just registered for the SCBWI conference and critique day, so I figured I'd have to start practicing explaining my book to people at some point. And why not in front of a half empty room of drunk artists. I couldn't have picked a more supportive environment if I'd tried. :)

After waiting through a few more acts, I stepped onto the stage. I couldn't see anyone. The audience was hidden behind the spotlights. I swallowed, organized my thoughts, and adjusted the microphone to buy some time.

"I'm not a performer," I finally said, making eye contact with the faceless shadows. "But, I am an artist."

Everyone cheered. It pushed me to continue.

"How many of you are under twenty?"

A group of about 10 kids in the front row all whooped and clapped. Most of them were boys.

"Alright, alright. Be honest here. How many of you are under twenty and read novels."

The front row was up clapping and cheering again. "Tell us about your book!" they yelled.

By this time, I thought I could stay on stage all day. "Alright, I'll tell you a bit about my book, then I'm gonna tell you a funny story, and then I'll clear off the stage so the real performers can do their thing."

More cheers. Seriously! They were cheering for me!

So, I told a brief synopsis about my book. It probably could have been better, but hell, it was my first time. And then I told this story about when I went to yoga - something the over-twenties could relate to also. And then, as promised, I cleared off the a full-bodied round of applause. Even people I'd never met came up to me after to say how awesome I did on stage.

And I thought, what an amazing experience to have thrust upon me. I always sit at these open mics and think "Someday people will see my art too." I never thought that I could also get on stage. And I am so thankful that I could confront this arbitrary fear about presenting my book to strangers, to standing on stage and talking about it. After this experience, I feel really confident (if not totally prepared...) to go to the conference in January.

I am an artist. And I can do anything.

Have you guys had to muster up some courage? Tell me about it!


  1. Wow, she IS amazing!! And so are you for getting up there and rocking it! It's weird, I don't often think of myself as an 'artist', but we are, aren't we?! haha I don't have any recent stories of courage. Generally speaking, I'm a wuss :-) ... but thanks for sharing! This reminded me that inspiration and motivation can come at the most unlikely time, in the most unlikely places.

  2. boo! the picture of me on stage isn't working!

    And yeah, Laura, we totally ARE artists! :)

  3. It's working now!! Awww, so awesome! And yes, I really did like your friend's music! I already found more of her youtube stuff and made a little playlist for work today. Her voice is so pretty!

  4. Oh my goodness! I got chills while I was reading that. How brave of you, and how cool that you realized that you'd have to do this someday anyway, if you were going to become an author.

    I would have shivered senseless and probably not spoken a word...ten years ago! Yay for age and maturity! I think I probably would have managed to take a challenge like this, if the place wasn't packed. I've actually realized that the more relaxed I am in a crowd, the more "funny" I can be without really trying. I know it's superficial to say so, but I amaze myself sometimes. I used to be so stiff and shy and quiet, but I'm so much more relaxed now, and I'm ME, you know? The relaxed, online-me slowly emerging to the real world.

    Anyway, I thought how you handled the beginning was excellent. You got the crowd with you even before you started. Way to go!


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