Yep, in my haste to convey how exciting this was I have decided to set aside my penchant for coming up with a slightly (but not too) enigmatic title for this blog post. This week, for the first time ever, I had one of my short stories read out in public! I might add, this is the first time I have shared any of my stories with any one other than 2 very close friends. And they each have only seen 1 or 2 pieces of my work. Sharing my stories is a big deal for me. But then blogging was quite a big deal. I wrote this blog for at least a year without telling anyone (and I mean no one, I didn’t even link to it anywhere) I was writing it. Before that I wrote a journal which is and remains utterly private, but I think I needed the space to write something that no one else was ever going to read before I could even contemplate sharing my own writing motivated by my own interests with any one else.
Anyway, so having my story read out by an actor to a room full of strangers was completely terrifying and hugely exciting. The lovely people of Are You Sitting Comfortably put on a fun evening of short stories written by local writers. The event is well organised and themed with tables and checked table covers laden with cakes and sweets. There are often platters of cucumber sandwiches travelling round the room too. The ‘tea party’ twist is lovely and sets the scene quite nicely for regressing to childhood and listening to some stories.
My story was second in the running order, though I didn’t know that until the title was read out. This immediately provoked a hiss from me of, “oh shit, its my story”. Luckily I hadn’t had a chance to drink much of my glass of wine or I might have said that rather more loudly. When I was identified as the writer I am fairly certain I called out “Hello! I am so excited!”, which may well haunt me for the rest of my days as the least interesting thing I have ever said in public to people who don’t know me.
Hearing someone else read my work was a curious thing. It was a very emotionally moving experience for me and I spent quite a lot of the story hiding my face behind my hands. I know every twist and turn of the story and of course I anticipated each development and most of the next lines. Of course I know it well, I wrote it and edited it. I was sick to death of reading it by the time I was ready to submit it and I know every little tug each word makes on me as well as I know the colours, textures and shapes of the skin on my own face. However, it was also like hearing it for the first time. Writing a story down puts it at a distance from me. It takes it out of my head and it becomes an entity in its own right. I don’t know how that happens, but it is both surprising and wonderful. They take on lives of their own once you write them down. Having someone else read my work put it just that little bit further away and perhaps a little bit round the corner. Hearing my story standing on its own was just fantastic!
I doubt very much I could give a good account of how the audience reacted. There were some laughs in the right places. There was a feeling of tension in the room at the ending and I sensed a shift in mood appropriate to the emotional shift at the end of the story. I could have been imagining that though. I was so caught up in my own experience that my eyewitness account is none too reliable. My three supporters really liked it and seemed to think the rest of the audience did too. To be honest with you as far as all the people in the room I didn’t know go, I am mainly relieved no one booed and I didn’t embarass myself any more than I did. I am grateful that they listened.