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  • Danielle Hayden

Not the best orator...

As I pivot from journalism into more creative writing, that has come with more opportunities to present my work to live audiences. But I'm the girl who has always been better on paper, who can be rather awkward when I talk, and who has wished (and not really jokingly) that job interviews could be conducted via Gchat instead of verbally. I have three public readings this year (so far), the first of which was a couple weeks ago, in Seattle. It went pretty well, all things considered. I was decent but I definitely could have done better and I wish I'd made more time to practice. Maybe if I hadn't finished writing my piece earlier that day (ever the procrastinator, I had it printed at the library on my way to the event), the evening would have fared more favorably. I still would have been nervous though. It makes me uncomfortable to be looked at, and listened to. I just want to be read. I wasn't totally new to public speaking: speeches, presentations, competitions over the years served as helpful preparation. And it wasn't the case that I was a total novice at reading my creative work aloud either; I'd done an open mic in 2014. So I have tried to (or been forced to, in some cases) put myself out there. But with those experiences, the stakes were much lower. There was something about an actual, organized event that was centered around my and three other writers' work, and one that was advertised and promoted that made this one different. Each of us also had to read for 12-15 minutes, which may not sound like it but when you're up there it feels like a long time to be reading something. I wish I could have been as dynamic and engaging as a TED speaker.



Drawing by Peter H. Reynolds, peterhreynolds.com

Regardless, I was blown away by the other writers and felt honored to be up there with them. It made me question why I was even chosen to be up there. While I didn't totally blow it, I'll definitely come harder next time. Not be as fucking monotonous with my delivery, which I kicked myself for afterwards. I'm grateful. And when I finish writing my book, if I'm lucky enough to get asked to recite a page in some dive bar somewhere, I'll remember where it all started.

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