"Marija, you were acting in NYC and you were a broadcast journalist, what is wrong with you?!" is what I was thinking just before I got up in front of that mic yesterday afternoon at The Writer's Center in Bethesda. I was nervous and I should not have been. My story was good, I knew that, I practised reading it out loud, and had 11 friends and a teacher in the audience supporting me.
But I was still nervous, so nervous that I was a little short of breath when I began reading. But then, I relaxed soon after.
I was worried that people won't understand every word I say since I speak English with a Slavic accent. And they needed to understand every word of a six-minute excerpt. Every word was precious, there was nothing to cut off. Believe me, I cut off everything that I could in order to tell my story.
But I didn't tell the whole story.
I was cut off almost at the end.
So, after the readings ended, people I don't know came to me and told me they wanted to know how my story ended. And that they liked it.
I remembered, even in front of a camera, or on the stage, I have always been nervous. But I have never, not once, screwed up.
I actually was told in grad school that I looked the most comfortable as a TV anchor. Huh. True story.
In sum, the reading went smoothly, people loved my story and enjoyed my "actor's" presentation. Oh I played that baby up, inflections, different voices, moods...
So I'm extremely satisfied how everything played out.
My teacher was too, saying "you have no competition in the room," just before she left. And "has this story been published?"
We're talking about my new story here,"Just a boy," It's a story about a little girl, a Croatian little girl, whose mother left her for another man, and her father died in World War II. The story is about the night when her father comes back home after three years and finds out that his wife was impregnated by another man before she left.
Pretty heavy stuff, I know, but all my stories are like that. Well, almost all. I have a few light ones, just to mix it up.
So, this morning when I got up, everything was back to normal. I need to work on my book. I need to work on my query letter. And I need my latte. Quiet, rainy morning, after a loud, fun day.