Thursday, April 10, 2008

Public Speaking

My kneecaps were jumping and my armpits pricked as if I were wearing woolens in mid-summer, but I survived reading aloud in public. For the past several weeks, I practiced reading to the walls, an excerpt from one of my short stories, in preparation for the Peterborough Library’s 175 anniversary. Peterborough Town Library 175th Anniversary, 1833-2008

The Library had a published schedule of activities for the day. When I arrived, I requested of the librarian a printed program. There wasn’t any printed program I was informed. I introduced myself as a member of the Monadnock Writers’ Group, and explained that we wanted to know where we were in the schedule for the public reading of our material. I was then introduced to the coordinator of events, who assured me she would be along shortly with the Library Director to answer our questions.

I returned to my group, and delivered the message about the printed program being nonexistent. The coordinator and director arrived shortly, and mistook me for the spokesperson of the group! In the confusion that followed, we discovered that although we were expected, the library had not received our bio’s as requested, and we would need to introduce ourselves. Thankfully, another member of long standing was in attendance and took over duties as spokesperson, much to my relief.

My relief soon turned to dismay when we discovered that we would follow the local authors (including Edie Clark, Alice Fogel, Lita Judge, Beth Krommes, Howard Mansfield, Vicki Stiefel, and William Tapply) who were scheduled to read excerpts of their works first. This was intimidating to say the least! However, as I listened, I felt that I had as much credibility for putting pen to paper as any and that thought helped to assuage a portion of my anxiety.

It was soon my turn at the podium. With jumping knees, pounding heart, and prickling arm pits, I made it through. The audience made expressive sounds at all the right places as I read along. I developed a respect for them that surprised me. They were not critics, but regular folk who enjoy reading and have an appreciation for the written word. Maybe I’ll do this again.

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