In spite of her infinite wisdom, a woman I know encouraged me to apply to grad school. It didn’t matter that I already have a Master’s degree. Or that I’ve been out of school since 2008. Or that I already have a career. She still goaded me into it.
And, in spite of my infinite wisdom, I did it. I applied to grad school. Where someone (or someones) in spite of their infinite wisdom, accepted me into the program.
There are a lot of reasons I shouldn’t have been accepted. I won’t go into them for fear the director of the program will read this and thus revoke my elite membership into this tribal group of individuals who are all exquisite and eloquent in their writing. Because even though I’m going to drop out, I’d rather leave on my own terms than be excluded on theirs.
Have you ever been excluded from anything? No? You’re all kinds of peaches and cream and perfection?
Well, I have. And let me tell you, it’s no fun. Not one iota of fun can be had from being excluded from a group you thought you belonged to.
Though, I must admit, there is a lot to be said for being excluded from a cult. True story. It happened to me once. Mind you, they didn’t say they were a cult, but I know they were. I read about the likes of them on a poster board once. It gave all the warning signs of a cult and they met them. Right down to the very last one they did.
Of course, I didn’t read about the warnings until after I’d walked away and been shunned forever.
I’d like to say it was one of those “hindsight is 20/20” kinds of things, but it wasn’t. I’d been excluded from a cult and I’m not sure you can get much more ostracized than that.
So, I’m not going to tell this grad school program that they were out of their literary minds for accepting me. Nope. Not going to do it.
I’ll simply sneak away in the dead of night. Walk away with my hoodie up over my head, the ghost of my MFA degree trailing behind me whispering “What are you doing? This was our chance. You could have been a writer….”
See how I did that? They call that dialogue. Writers do, that is. Me? I call it the whispering of my ghostlike MFA degree. That I’m not going to get because I’m going to drop out.
I know it sounds like quitting and no one likes a quitter. Not even a cult. But I can’t help it. This kind of grad school program is hard. Not in the manner that getting any other degree is hard, either. At least when I got my Master’s in Professional Counseling, I was allowed to read other people’s work and then regurgitate it for a test. And frankly, if that isn’t some kind of plagiarism, I don’t know what is.
With an MFA, you can’t do that. It’s strictly forbidden. Instead, you’re supposed to be unique and original. You’re supposed to write. And since the program flaunts the whole “write a thesis” kind of mantra, I’m assuming they mean you’re supposed to be writing more than a blog post.
Which is all I have managed to write since the program started a little over a week ago. And how the hell am I supposed to support that? With hashtags, likes, and re-tweets? Because I’m not sure that’s going to cut it.
I mean, seriously, this is an MFA program. This is where you’re supposed to become a master of the fine arts. A master. It’s right there in the title, in case you missed it.
And what exactly am I supposed to be mastering? No one has told me which chapter to read in order to get ready for the exam!
So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to drop out.
I’ll walk away from what could have been and leave it to the masters. Like the guy on blackboard who introduced himself by writing a fictional essay of his life. A fictional essay of his life. What did I write? A brief biography that I had to handwrite the first draft of because I was so worried about leaving something out or sounding poorly prepared. For goodness sakes, I started it with “Hi, my name is…”
That’s what third graders write! Not masters of the fine arts.
People were polite and all in their responses, but I’m pretty sure I’m getting voted off this literary island of people who have whole thesaurus’ memorized and who spend all their free time reading Tolstoy and Ayne Rand.
Meanwhile, I’m over here reading what I commonly refer to as “fluff novels” and “beach reads.” Yes, I’ve read Wally Lamb and once in high school I read King Henry the VIII. But who am I kidding? I skipped over parts of that Wally Lamb book after I’d read it twice because I found those particular parts to be a tad on the dull side. And just now? When I wrote about having read King Henry? I had to look up how to write eight in roman numerals.
I highly doubt that the others in my cohort, the real writers have ever had to do that. They’re scholars. They’re academics. And me? I’m sitting on the beach in my mind reading a romance novel. Or cozied up to my lap desk pounding out a thousand words for a blog post that may (or may not) be seen by others.
Like this one. Where I’m feeling all kinds of confliction over the fact that I tend to be the positive one, the encourager, the person who likes to empower others to go forth and do. Like great things and stuff.
Except for today. Unless you’re feeling the will to quit right along with me. Then, we could be quitting buddies. Partners in giving up. The ones who will never know what could have been because we’re too busy wallowing in our own vat of “we are less than.”
Now that sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s not.
So what if I introduced myself like a third grader! Big deal if I haven’t memorized a thesaurus lately or didn’t have the gumption to introduce myself using a made up story. So what if this is the hardest thing I’ve done in a while.
Even though it would still be nice to have the answers in a textbook somewhere, it seems I may have to write that blasted textbook for some other poor soul who will follow in my footsteps like the moron that I am.
“You should be a writer,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said.
Well, the joke’s on them. Because as soon as I find out their names, they’ll be the ugly villains in my next novel. They’ll be the ones who find themselves on the business side of a drink that’s been poisoned.
Because writing isn’t easy.
And I knew that when I was in the third grade and wrote my first story. I think it had to do with clowns or the circus. I know it made my third grade teacher smile. I did not win the school wide writing contest.
Perhaps that’s why I introduced myself like a third grader on the MFA blackboard. Perhaps I’m getting back in touch with my inner writer who tried to sprout all those years ago. Perhaps this will be the biggest accomplishment of my academic career.
Or, I’ll be a writer who still has to work for a living in spite of my infinite wisdom that once wanted to be a lawyer. Now there’s a job where you can make stuff up and seriously get paid. Like in cash and not copies of the little known magazine that published your short story for a measly three dollars.
I wonder if it’s too late to change majors.
Well, considering today is a holiday and the campus is closed in observance, I can’t change majors today. Or drop out right now.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t. It just means I won’t do it today. Maybe tomorrow. Or the next day. When I get around to it.
When I do, don’t mind me. Just excuse me while I drop out.
Don’t judge me or try to talk me out of it. Or you might find yourself on the business end of a hissy fit, which will end you up as the least liked character in my next novel. Sure, not many people will read it, but when they do…they’ll be just like me…quitters who are reading on the beach.
I think life is like this picture.
Not in the sense that we all stand around in the sunlight with beautiful buildings in the backdrop while we hold newspapers up in front of our faces. But metaphorically speaking.
Think about it.
We’re all born into this world as wrinkly little beings, baring our bodies to those who conceived us and those who are helping bring us into the world. We are shiny, unwritten stories, waiting to be written and told.
Sure, sometimes there are people who have plans and dreams for us and our lives. I suspect this happens quite a lot.
Mother: Look at this gorgeous baby. S/he’s going to grow up to _______________________ someday.
Am I right?
First, I think all mothers think their babies are gorgeous. Even if their baby’s have skin that hangs off their bodies like wrinkly puppies. Or the baby comes out with a head that is a complete point until he’s nearly three years old. Or when the baby comes out so chunky she’s got fat rolls before she’s a day old.
Babies are cute, right? They’ve got personality from the minute they emerge from the womb.
And why wouldn’t we imagine these little ones would do something incredible with their lives? We’ve just watched or experienced the miracle of life. I think it goes without saying that there is a high percentage of individuals who have this moment and are then spurred on to think all kinds of inspirational greatness about those tiny beings.
And then, life happens.
The babies go home with their parents or spend some time in the NICU before going home or what have you. Maybe some have colic or health problems or they hit their terrible twos way ahead of schedule. Mom and Dad are sleep deprived, frustrated, and wondering how they’re ever going to pay the mortgage, much less put money away into the child’s college fund.
Then, one day, perhaps many years down the road, the parents have five minutes of free time. They breathe a sigh of relief, wipe down that sticky table they’ve been meaning to get to for years, and reflect.
Maybe even the kid is part of this five minute window.
Mother: remember when…..
Father: Yeah. I always dreamed that….
Kid: Are you serious? I’m not like that at all.
And that’s when the parents understand the myth.
Life is like this adventurous thing; a choose your own adventure book, almost. Moms and Dads think about their new little one. They dream all sorts of fascinating and wonderful things for the little one’s life. Then the little one is born.
It’s the little one that gets to ultimately choose the adventure for his or her life.
I know. As parents we think we’ve got it all under control. We educate them. We guide them. We instill those ever important values into their little hearts and minds.
In the end, they might as well have been born with the newspaper in front of their faces. Because even though we, as parents, dream about what our kids’ lives will be like or what they’ll do or who they’ll influence, we really have no clue.
Good intentions and high hopes…but no clue.
When I look back at this picture of four of my seven children, I never would have guessed back then, that their lives would be like they are now. I’m proud of them and where they are in life at this point.
Might I have suggested they take different paths? Or chosen different things to help them get to where they are or to get to something that I was certain was best for them? I’m sure that I did make those suggestions. I want them to make informed decisions, if nothing else.
Kids have minds of their own. Life has a mind of its own. We as parents are simply along for the ride…and maybe to learn a little something about our once little ones in the process.
Happy parenting. Instill, inspire, and love. Then watch them grow into the people they were destined to become.
I’ve always thought I’d taught my children well.
Use your manners. Love the Lord. Be nice. Do your homework. Read a good book. Be respectful. And all the other important things kids need to know before they grow into adults and make it out in that big, bad, scary world.
Apparently, there was one thing I forgot. Or maybe didn’t do as well as I would have liked.
Teach them to accept a compliment.
The other day, I was scrolling through the photos on my phone and came across one of our son. He’s the third of four boys, fifth in the line of seven kids. The photo had been taken at the tuxedo shop a few days before prom. Sharp tuxedo, a half smirk on his face, and at the last second, just before hubby snapped the picture to send me (I was at work), the shop owner placed a hat on his head. She insisted Mom would like the hat too.
He looked great. In fact, I really liked the hat. It was a nice touch that exuded confidence and flare. I was bummed out when he got home that night and I learned he didn’t rent the hat too.
So, I posted the picture on Instagram. I realize Instagram is all about photos taken that instant and mine was just over a week old, but really, who has time to post that picture in that instant? Even in the days of the Polaroid camera, we had to shake the film as the picture developed. Am I right?
I added in a few hash tags (aka: pound signs) in front of the few notes I made on the photo. I’m a little slow on the uptake, but I like a good hash tag. Though I’m really confused as to whether that word “hashtag” is one word or two. This computer is not liking it as one. I used words like “stylin’” and “looking good.” Because he was.
I got some likes (it’s not like I have a huge following on Instagram) and my son commented. He said “no.”
I assumed he was saying “no” to the fact that I said he was looking good. I’m honestly not real sure because it is very early in the morning as I type this and he’s still asleep.
But it got me to thinking…did I forget along the way to teach him (or any of my other kids) how to accept a compliment?
It’s quite possible I did. Because it took me a long time, many, many years even, to be able to do the same. I just never quite saw myself the same way someone else did when they said something positive about my looks, intellect, or personality.
I remember an adult family member once complimenting a cousin of mine. I don’t remember about what exactly, but it was a totally appropriate, positive remark to make. Her response was to say something glib like “I know” in the way that teenagers sometimes do.
My memory of the event isn’t that she was being conceited or arrogant, she was just being silly. She was being a teenager. You know, sort of self-centered, but not in a hateful way.
That adult did not see the humor in it. In fact, he accused her of being self-centered and hateful.
It ruined what could have been a good moment. Even a good teaching moment if he truly felt the need to correct her behavior.
That snapshot in life has stuck with me. Well, that and the fact that I never could wrap my head around the fact that I was pretty or smart or had a great personality.
So when I saw the comment from my son, I wondered how many others have trouble accepting a compliment.
The answer is pretty hard for some people. So hard in fact, it prompted this article in Psychology Today. I even came across this wiki How page that teaches people how to accept a compliment. Good Therapy even got in on the action.
I know it can be hard to believe other people think great things about you. Quite possibly because you don’t believe that you’re great. It’s the whole low self-esteem thing.
It wasn’t until I started to believe some positive things about myself that I was able to take a compliment at face value. (How’s that for self-centeredness?) When that happened, things got easier. After all, we’re our own worst critic. When we look in the mirror, we don’t just see a flaw, we see FLAWS. All of them. Every last one. Magnified to the nth degree.
When in reality, those flaws (we all have them) are probably rather small.
For the most part, our flaws make us human. No one is perfect. Sure, if you have a serious flaw, it’s a good idea to look into changing that. And there’s room for improvement in each of us. But if someone compliments you on a great idea, your intelligence, the nice smile you have, or how kind you are…whatever it is…accept it.
Because you’re smart enough. You’re good enough. And dog gone it…people like you.
Today is a big day. It’s quite possibly the biggest day we’ve had around here in a while. Because it’s a good big day. We’ve been anticipating this big day all year long. Maybe even longer.
It all started a long, long, long time ago. On an evening where the only real details I can recall are ones of sadness, despair, and a determination to save a broken, withering marriage. It was an evening of “I’ll do anything to save this relationship.”
If you’re wondering if I ended up pregnant, you’d be wondering right. If you’re wondering if the marriage was saved, well…take it from me…having a baby does not a broken and awful marriage save. At all. Having a baby might prolong a long and emotionally draining marital death, but it won’t save the already broken vows.
I wasn’t looking to get pregnant that fateful night. Though I do think the pregnancy itself was a divine intervention.
Not one that was destined to save me or that marriage or anything like that. More of a divine intervention of God’s who was looking into the big, scary future (that I couldn’t even begin to fathom) and saw a future that I was too short-sighted to glimpse.
Because Cabe was born nine months later by scheduled cesarean section. I remember that day too.
It was a Wednesday. I started the day by doing a week’s worth of grocery shopping. I ended it by holding a sleeping eight pound, twelve ounce dark skinned baby boy.
The birth itself was fairly uneventful. Life since then? Well, that’s been a wild ride.
Cabe didn’t start walking until he was almost two years old. I think he just felt content wherever he was at at the moment. Talking was similar. Though he did learn and use American Sign Language for a little while. That boy could say “more toast” like a champ. He ate “more toast” like a champ too.
The marriage tanked after a steady decline followed by a serious nose dive into divorce. Cabe had just turned two.
Before I knew it, he was in kindergarten. Also before I knew it, the teacher was talking about holding him back. Something about “not being able to blend sounds.” I don’t really remember what that was all about because I dismissed her words without a backward glance. My son was going somewhere; she just couldn’t see it.
Due to a sudden move to a new town, he was enrolled along with his older brother in a different school. It proved to not be much better. That first grade teacher he had must have had a serious heart to heart with his former kindergarten teacher. Because this one, whenever Cabe chose a difficult book to read during the class’ reading time, would take it from him, suggest he read something “easier” and proceeded to stomp all over our son’s desire to challenge himself.
After that we (new hubby and I) did a lot of homeschooling. During which time, Cabe learned to read exceptionally well after a bit of trial and error. He also demonstrated a knack for drawing. While Cabe had trouble seeing his talent at first, he really honed his skills over time and could outdraw anyone…in our family. We’re not quite sure where he got this creative gene from, but we were all impressed.
Cabe re-entered mainstream public school sometime around the fifth grade. It was a rather spontaneous decision on his part that lasted approximately three months. He couldn’t seem to sit still there.
Then it was back to homeschooling where he read lots of interesting books, kept drawing pictures, and learned that he enjoyed working out. He also spent some time volunteering at the local public library. You know, where they keep lots of books that people read. It’s a place where people go when they can blend sounds and read big books. (I’m not bitter, I swear.)
We moved again during August of what would be Cabe’s ninth grade year of school. It was an “across the country” kind of move. The kind where new and exciting things can happen in the blink of an eye because you’ve put down all your guards and have delved into the world of the impossible and the unfamiliar. It was frightening in a giddy kind of way.
Along with the move came the decision to put the kids into public school; Cabe included. He started high school three thousand miles away from everything and everyone he’d ever known. Talk about intimidating. Some folks actually thought we were engaging in some cruel form of child abuse. I’m pretty sure those folks were related to those elementary school teachers Cabe had had. You know the ones who believe only in one’s limited abilities and can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to living the impossible.
Was it hard for Cabe to get his footing in this new place? Yes. Did a lot of interesting, exciting, and strange things happen in his life after the arrival in the last Frontier? Yes, yes, and yes.
In the four short years of high school, our son, has accomplished the following:
1. He’s learned the art of dog mushing which included: learning how to handle and care for a team of sled dogs, racing that same team of dogs in the Akiak Dash and the Junior Iditarod.
2. Gotten (and dealt with) a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder.
3. Read a ton of books.
4. Made friends in a community he’d never been part of or heard of before coming here.
5. Learned his way around multiple airports in multiple cities and has flown from one place to another on his own.
6. Gotten and held a part time job in the following fields: grocery, dog handling, pizza joint, and local airport.
7. Gone to the senior prom.
8. Gotten his driver’s license.
9. Made the school’s wrestling team.
10. Lived a lot.
And even though he’s had some really rough times (since conception), the one thing that’s remained a constant hasn’t been frustration or anger or a life of giving up. It’s been his continued willingness to keep going. To keep trying. To overcome whatever hurdles life has thrown at him.
Why? Because that’s what you do when life throws curve balls at you. You don’t back down or run screaming from the plate, you stand taller. You look life in the eye and take whatever it throws at you.
Last night, we went to a local church service that’s held every year to celebrate and encourage the graduates in the community. As the pastor spoke about life’s possibilities and Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you an expected end” I thought about our son.
Things could have gone seriously awry for him, what with the start of his life. He could have given up at any time along the way.
But he didn’t.
Was it easy? I doubt it. Were there times when getting to today seemed impossible? Yes, a few times that I can plainly recall.
Yet here we are. By the end of the day, we’ll have another high school graduate in this family.
I know that in some families, at moments like this, parents might be awash in the glow of everything they did to get their child where he is. And I’m sure there are many parents who have done a lot to get their kids to this milestone moment. I’m just not sure my husband and I are those people.
See, we have spent all these years believing in our son. Our son has done all the work in getting to this point.
For that, we can’t take any credit at all.
So, as I embark on this gorgeous day by going to work and attempting to contain my excitement for the evening ahead, I’ll do a few things in honor of Cabe on his graduation day.
I’ll praise God from whom all blessings flow. For He gave me a(nother) son when I least expected it and saw the future for this boy long before I ever saw an ultrasound picture of him.
I’ll smile…a lot. And capture every moment I can on camera.
And I’ll applaud our son for working hard and never giving up.
We don’t know what the future holds for him, but Cabe has been leaving his mark on the world since he made his entrance into it. It’s what he does and what I imagine he’ll continue to do as he heads out into adulthood.
We’ve marked yet another Mother’s Day off the calendar. Women with children either celebrated in fashion or with macaroni glued projects and soggy French toast.
But my mind wasn’t on motherhood this year. It was on loss. It was on those with empty arms and aching hearts. They’re mothers too, you know.
The women who lost babies and their babies’ dreams to miscarriage, SIDS, and other tragedies that took their little ones far, far too soon. Their arms might be empty, but they’re mothers too.
Women whose babies grew up before their eyes and passed away before they did, they’re mothers too. They are the women I’ve had on my heart and mind this year as society geared up for another year, another day of celebrating mothers.
I find it odd that we celebrate Mother’s Day. Not that mothers aren’t amazing, many of them anyway. They do so much for their offspring from birthing them to teaching them to fixing all the boo boos they can. Mothers are great.
Oh I know about infertility and bed rest. I know about stretch marks and the hours spent waiting up for the young ones to come home in time for curfew. I know about all those things because I’m a mother too.
Mothers endure and conquer and worry and pray. They bandage and cook and clean. I get that. But they didn’t create the baby. That was out of their control. Think about that for a minute.
I have seven children. Three, I gave birth to. Spreading your legs does not a baby make. The miracle of conception is something I had no control over. Three of the children, I adopted. Believe me, there was even less control there. Social workers and judges were the ones who granted that. The seventh child was brought to me through the journey of step parenting. Anyone who thinks that is something a woman can simply make happen has never done it. I can guarantee you that.
It takes a lot to be a mother. A willingness to be present, to show up, to care about someone so much that other things get put on the back burner. Like sleep. Like your sex life, exotic vacations, eating a hot meal, and showering.
It takes nothing to be childless. A tragedy, a blink of an eye. Countless hours, days, weeks, months, years even of trying every known modern day scientific wonder.
Come to think of it, it takes a lot to be childless. Strength, endurance, believing in life again. Tears.
And while we mothers whose children are strong and healthy or even unhealthy and alive are soaking up all the rights we believe are ours on Mother’s Day, we mustn't forget that the others, the ones who’ve lost their children, are mothers too.
Those whose children who have gone on before them are mothers too because they had children. Whether those children made only their presence known through a pregnancy announcement before going on before us or they made their presence known through a life lived, albeit short, they were here. They put their stamp of life onto the world.
Maybe you didn’t know them or get the opportunity to greet them, but their mothers did. They were very aware of their presence and still are today. It’s been sixteen years since the child I was pregnant with went on before me. Ten weeks and I knew that child. I think of her often.
And the women who’ve never had children? They’re mothers too. All of them. How you ask? Because they’ve mothered someone’s child, somewhere, at some time in their lives. Maybe they’ve even mothered your child.
Whether you’ve wanted their involvement by asking them to be your child’s godmother or you didn’t…when your former spouse or partner paired up with someone else who now shares in the mothering role of your child, they’re mothers too. They may not have the stretch marks to prove it, but they have the marks on their hearts.
And that’s the true testament of a mother’s love. The marks on her heart, the circles under her eyes, the love in her voice. Having stretch marks doesn’t make you better or put you into a club so elite that no other woman can enter without bearing the same scars. Having stretch marks simply means you once outgrew your normal sized clothes.
It’s when your heart outgrows its normal size to fit in enough love to love a passel of children, wherever they’ve come, that you become a mother.
They’re mothers too.
Don’t ignore them on Mother's Day or any other day. Don’t belittle them or have pity for them. Honor them. Thank them for what they’ve done for your children or your neighbor’s child or the motherless child down the street. Send them flowers or a card. Take them to dinner. Whatever you do, celebrate them.
Some say the hardest thing about writing is the actual act itself. Sitting down (or standing up) and pounding out words.
I can get on board with that. Take me for instance, I’ve written for 29 out of 30 days this month. I’ve only been attempting to write daily for a month for…well…for months. Things get in the way though. Like work. If you think all writers get paid for doing this, you’d be wrong. Sure, there are a few who can pay the bills by spinning yarns about things they make up, but the rest of us go to work. And if the rest of us go to work for a standard eight hour day, five days a week, that’s a lot of hours when they aren’t writing.
The rest of the time? They’re on Facebook, which eats up another bunch of hours in a week. Other than that, they’re eating or sleeping. Leaving approximately forty-seven minutes per week to write a novel. Is it any wonder the rumor is that writing is hard?
That’s not the hardest part though. Maybe building your author platform is. Something I doubt Mark Twain had to do during his tenure as a writer. No. I think his books wrote themselves and everyone just bought them. You know, the way this writing gig is supposed to go.
But last night, wow, that was different. The writing has come easily this month. Well, easier than in the last three months anyway. It’s still hard to get up hours before you have to go to work to think up random things to put down on paper. Especially when the time zone you live in is different from everyone else’s and your writing time has to be divided between penning words and checking Facebook.
The thing that was hard? Reading my work in public.
It’s not like they were a captive audience. I mean, they weren’t chained to the wall or in a jail cell or anything. No one was forcing them to stay. No one had even forced them to come to the event. They just did. It was like they wanted to be there or something. It was weird.
As part of the writing class I’d taken, this was the last hurrah.
“Write a story and then bring it to read out loud to others,” the syllabus said.
Did I mention I wasn’t even taking the course for a grade? That’s write, I had signed up, paid the money (even though I wasn’t going to get a grade), purchased the requisite books, and went to class every once a week for a semester.
Okay, so I missed two classes. It’s not like I was getting a grade.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret attending the class. I got a lot out of it. I learned how to write short stories. I got criticism and feedback from others during the workshop sessions. I was given the chance to read parts of my stories out loud in class and read a lot of excellent short stories from actual published writers and from my classmates.
I also got homework. Every week. The last week’s assignment being “read your story out loud in front of people.”
Also bring a dish to share.
I had my husband make the dish. He made muffins. They were good.
Reading my story aloud was a great learning experience. I can probably think of ten things I learned just from that one assignment. Let’s see.
1. Reading your work out loud for others is nerve racking.
2. Don’t eat before a public reading that doubles as a potluck. You won’t be hungry for the potluck if you do.
3. Be sure to proofread your story before reading. It’s embarrassing enough when a writer makes a critical sentence structure mistake, imagine how it sounds when others have to hear it.
4. The podium you stand behind won’t be big enough to hide all your jitters. Take a pencil up there with you for necessary tapping.
5. Be sure you have something to read before you get up there. You know something you actually wrote. It’s kind of expected.
6. If it’s a small crowd, don’t expect people to LOL while you’re reading even if you’re story is funny. For some reason, they don’t. Just keep reading as if you didn’t think it was funny either. Even though you know it is and not smiling at the funny parts is hard. Almost as hard as having written the story in the first place.
7. Be aware of the fact that you’re supposed to look up occasionally while you read. Awareness is plenty. Don’t actually do it. You might lose your place and not be able to find it again. Awkward.
8. Do not jump up and down with glee or hug the neck of the one stranger who after it’s over, comes up to you and tells you how much she liked your story. There’s no need to act desperate or embarrass yourself. You might not be invited back if you do. Wait. On second thought, do jump up and down and hug strangers. This could be your fifteen minutes of fame and then you can go back to closet writing where the stakes aren’t nearly as high.
9. Use your speech giving voice when you read. Remember the one you learned to master in that public speaking class you took in college? That’s the one…the skill you never thought you’d have to use because you were going to be a writer, not a public speaker. It’ll come in handy here as you speak clearly and just loudly enough to mask the silence of everyone listening to you read.
10. Be a little bit proud of yourself. Not in an arrogant way by any means. But in a way that makes you feel good about yourself. You did this thing. You took a writing prompt or an idea or a word and you weaved it into a story. A good one. And you read it out loud in front of other people. A few more years, another dozen stories, and someday, someone might just pay you to do this for a living.
Have you ever done something that took hard work and dedication? Wrote a story? Penned song lyrics? Painted a picture? Maybe you built a piece of furniture or learned a foreign language. Whatever creative endeavor you embarked on, be proud of yourself.