Sometimes You Bomb

Public speaking? Tough. Public speaking coupled with reading your own work out loud? Way more than tough. Reading your own work, out loud, in public, and pretty much bombing? Not as hard as you would think.


Last night, after work, I  changed into a cute dress and high heeled boots, put on some lipstick and a scarf, and took myself to Bows and Arrows for Words Aloud, a new reading series put on by Sacramento Connect. This first night featured two mom bloggers, Kelli Wheeler of Momservationsand Janelle Hanchett MacDonald of Renegade Mothering, followed by an open mic session and general snacking and hanging out.

NowThisLife.com - Words Aloud - Sacramento Connect

Totally enjoyed sitting there like a grown up and watching Kelli and Janelle read their work...especially Janelle who is wicked funny, painfully honest, and full of heart, all rolled into one tough girl package. Never having read in public before, she proved an absolute natural. The audience was completely in her pocket, laughing hard at the many hysterical parts and quieting down when the feeling moments landed perfectly. Definitely check out her blog, it's more than terrific.

Before the reading began, I met a couple of great new friends, and we encouraged each other to take a turn at the mic. Kate Abbott, who has a middle-grade novel called Disneylanders in the publishing process (cover art just approved!), read a tender and stunning excerpt from the memoir she's writing, which is about her struggle with post-partum depression. When she was finished, I made myself raise my hand and volunteer to be next.

Earlier in the evening, I'd thought through what I might read, and decided on my To Be Twenty Again post, thinking it was kind of light, short, and a little bit fun. Clutching my folded paper in my sweaty hand, thinking I looked quite Michelle Obama like in my sleeveless dress, I walked up to the microphone.

Now, I've spoken in public plenty of times, but this was different. This was putting myself out there in a whole different way, opening that inside part of myself up and asking people to like it, and it definitely made me more than a little nervous. I knew, though, that I'd regret it if I didn't get up and read, that I needed to be brave.

Deep breath, read...try not to rush too much, don't trip over your words, try to look up once in awhile.

A little introduction, okay, I'm doing all right. Keep going. Gee, it's awfully quiet in here. I'm not feeling it, but maybe it's just my imagination. Keep reading. Then, about half way through my two minute reading, I realized that it was not going well. At all. No one was laughing at the mildly funny parts, and when I managed to tear my eyes away from the paper in my hand and look at the audience, there was no sea of friendly faces. I was clearly bombing.

Yep, I bombed. And you know what? It wasn't all that bad. I didn't die. I didn't even cry. In fact, I felt kind of triumphant. Because I DID IT. I got up there, and so what if I sucked? Who said I needed to be a pro my first time out? I blew it, and all I could do was...smile.

I walked back over to the kind women I had met earlier, took a seat and had a great talk about writing and blogging and books and how difficult it can be to both want positive feedback and yet not want to be swayed by it. We encouraged each other, and listened to each other's stories, and had a little writer's community moment, which is exactly what we all came out for in the first place.

While I was driving home, it dawned on me that I really picked the completely wrong post to read. I got up and my reading asked the question, "What would you do if you could be any age again for one week?" My seemingly shallow and vain answer, in a nutshell, "Go back to being a model in Paris and go to the South of France."

No wonder they didn't like me! I must have come across like a real ass, out of context like that. Especially after Janelle and Kate had read such intimate, heart felt pieces. Much better that I would have chosen something about mothering, something with a little more of me in it, something with a bit of vulnerability. Next time I'll know better, and I bet I'll do a little better too.

Oh, and that Michelle Obama dress I felt so cute in? Sacramento Connect posted a picture of me at the microphone on facebook today, and I might just have to burn that dress! Far from looking cute, I instead look fairly pregnant and decidedly un-Michelle Obama-like in the arm region.

But you know what? I'm still smiling.


  1. Wow, what an inspiring post! It takes a strong person to do what you did and write about it when it doesn't go as you'd hoped. Kudos to you! I hope some day I'll have half the strength and confidence.

    1. Thank you Nicole, so nice of you to comment. It was really great to realize that it didn't bother me that much...what a surprise! Sometimes it's good just to leap.

  2. Oh my gosh, you did not bomb, you sounded great and had a great story! Really. And even more importantly, you looked fabulous! :) I'm also so glad to have met you, and thanks for being so very nice.

    1. Thank you Kate, you are very sweet. I so appreciate your kind words.

  3. Wait a minute, I was there last night and I don't remember anybody bombing. You did an awesome and gutsy thing going up there last night and reading YOUR words. Especially on an inaugural night when nobody knows what to expect (of the readers OR the audience). So, good for you and I hope you go back and do it again.

    Also? I thought you looked fantastic, and I think you have a great attitude about the whole thing.

    1. Ah, Margaret, you are kind:) Thank you. It will be easier the next time when we all know a little better what to expect.


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