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 stage...to 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!