Last week I did something I honestly didn’t know if I could, I stood up in front of a crowd of people and read them a story of mine. Not people in a crit group or on a creative writing course (oh god that was bad enough), but people who were out drinking and having a good time and were there to hear bands and people reading.
As you may be able to guess, I was totally terrified – especially as the wonderful A L Kennedy was also on the Golden Hour bill (albeit hours before me and long gone before I took to the stage). Although at least I didn’t have long to get worked up, as I was a bit of a last minute replacement.
Much to my surprise, it went fine! I was nervous, but didn’t stumble over my words too badly and managed to even keep myself from reading like an android. I’m still asking myself how I managed it. The only explanation I can come up with is that your confidence can be steadily improving and growing without you even noticing.
In my head, I’m still the teenager that can’t even ask for a bottle of juice when on holiday in Portugal and has to get her friend to do it for her. But in the real world, I’m head of a copy department and give training presentations to clients pretty often.
These two things seemed impossible to reconcile, until I was up on the stage and able to say to myself ‘this is the same thing, you want to explain something the best way possible – it’s just that this time you’re explaining the emotions in your story instead of how to write good copy’.
Whether this is a trick that’ll bear repeating or whether it was blind beginners luck I have no idea. But I love the idea that self confidence can very quietly bloom and that you don’t have to be one of those naturally loud people to do things like that. Do any of you read often? Do you enjoy it or do you find it scary like me?