So, I enjoy school visits. I’m no longer nervous about them. I no longer have to put on special anti-perspirant the night before! I no longer wake up anxious all the night before. It’s kind of a miracle.
But public readings are still very nerve-wracking. Last Friday, there was a Readers’ Choice reading at The Open Book in Minneapolis. About 15 finalists (in 8 categories) for the Minnesota Book Award read/talked for 5 minutes each. I was nervous. I was the only children’s writer talking. I was on stage (a small stage, but still). And my husband would be there (having friends and family at stuff like this makes me MORE, not less, nervous).
Overall, though, the event went well! All I briefly explained the inspiration for my book and then read four poems from it, with a bit of backstory about each. No big deal, I know. But normally, I would have run through my reading 30 times during the week. Or more. I’m a classic over-preparer.
Not last week. Monday, I figured out what I had time to say in the introduction (not much) and then chose six or seven possible poems. During the week, in the car, I said my 1-minute introduction a couple times a day. Not because I didn’t know it, but just because it helped me feel prepared. It was Friday before I started feeling nervous. But first thing in the morning, I decided that every time a feeling of anxiety washed over me, I would say to myself, out loud if possible, "I’m sure everything will go fine." And then resolutely concentrate on something else. I probably said that about 30-40 times on Friday.
And it helped! I read pretty well, I don’t think my voice shook, and I didn’t allow myself to get too worked up. Of course, I was lying to myself all day. I wasn’t really sure. But I think it’s definitely one of those self-fulfilling prophecy kind of things, so I will now be lying to myself before all events like this to see if it helps! And I will be dragging my husband along for moral support.
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