I’ve performed before. I’ve been involved in theatre most of my life and for as long as I can remember, I never struggled with stage fright. But last night, it hit me. I was distracted; jittery; my hands shook. I was nervous when I took the stage. My own voice was blasting into my ear from a nearby amp. But slowly, I built momentum.
Last night, I read a short story for Creative Colloquy, a monthly live fiction and poetry reading held at B Sharp Coffee House in hilly downtown Tacoma. A couple dozen people crowd into a narrow industrial building with exposed beams and cement floors to share their stories. This month, I was one of the event’s featured writers, along with Christian Carvajal, Dan Rahe, Gabriel D. Roberts and Lory French. It was a pleasure to be counted among such great local talent.
Reading your own material is nerve-wracking. You’re shining a harsh spotlight on a bit of your soul, hoping for a good reaction. At the same time, reading your own material is exhilarating, because for once, you can see your audience’s reaction. After the first few halting paragraphs, I fell into a rhythm fed by the mood of the room. I had more control over the story than if it was being read on the website. I dictated the pace, the pauses, the highs and the lows. I got to connect with my listeners in a way I never had before — speaking directly to them like my distant forebears around the fire.
When it was over, they applauded, and all my worries about the piece melted away in a wash of approval. Yielding the stage for the next storyteller, I felt good. I felt like a writer. And I know I’ll be back to do it again.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. His short story, The Observable Universe, was published by Creative Colloquy in July. You can follow him on Twitter at @jonnyeberle.