Last week, I went to an open mic night. It was amazing! The speakers were all talented – some were comedians, others thought-provoking, others simply entertaining. It really inspired me to come back again tonight with my own piece.
I love writing, but it is not a job where you often see the results of your words. I am not usually sitting next to someone as they read my article. Sure, they can post comments, but it isn’t the same as seeing their facial expressions as I go along – I can ignore comments or write carefully crafted responses on websites. But to be heckled right to my face, or watch people yawning, rolling their eyes, or maybe even fall asleep? The idea was a little intimidating, if I am being honest. I must have gone back and forth a half dozen times: it’s too scary vs getting exposure. They may hate it vs it could be a lot of fun. I decided, much like my attitude when I decided to quit my job, to man up and do it anyway.
I brought a very short story and a longer poem with me when I went tonight. I figured I would get a feel for the crowd before my time slot, then choose the piece that would be a better fit. I got there and it was very hard to remain seated. My instinct was to run all the way home. It was a tough feeling to ignore, so I turned over the last page of my short story and started writing a poem on its blank back. That’s the best way I’ve ever found to process emotions.
When it was my turn, I read the poem I came with since poetry seemed to be getting a better response from the crowd. This particular piece is a relatively personal one, written after a nasty breakup. Only a few lines in, I found it quite easy to tap into the same feelings I had when I wrote it. My confidence started increasing and I could feel the crowd fading away. My voice got more steady and expressive as I read on.
I thought I did a pretty good job.
When I finished, there was silence for a moment. I honestly thought I had bombed. I was just about to start panicking when people began applauding! I couldn’t believe it; I had actually gotten a great response. It was a heart-stopping moment. I thanked everyone and went back to my seat. It was a very humbling moment and probably a highlight of my writing career. People came up to me afterward to tell me what it meant to them, which made it even more worthwhile.
I don’t know if I can sleep tonight, I am still so pumped up from the experience! I might do it again soon!