The first time I read one of my stories in public, I was in the basement of a bar in San Francisco and there was a live band playing upstairs.
I didn't have a microphone and had to shout to be heard.
That was back in March when Switchback was celebrating the launch of Issue 9, which included a story of mine called "Skittish," about a woman who is attracted to a man with muscles because it makes her feel safe … until it doesn’t.
Not the kind of story I wanted to shout. Especially since I was writing from the woman's point of view and saying things like:
I catch Paul watching me, but just as quickly I pretend not to notice. I don't know what it is about my neck. Guys are always kissing it or wanting to kiss it.
Shouting that felt surreal. Try it, if you don't believe me.
I got another chance to read Friday night, and I again found myself shouting. But this time it was because the story, "Disengaged," called for shouting.
They were quickly out of town on the two-lane to the coast. Noise from the engine and the rush of hot August air made it necessary to shout.
"The wedding if off!"
"I just got the invitation today."
This was at the Gallery House in Palo Alto, and I was one of several writers taking part in the Peninsula Literary Series.
Naturally I flubbed a few lines — saying "big sure" when I meant "Big Sur," for example — but the reading went better than I had imagined. Better than I had rehearsed it.
I even remembered to look up at the audience from time to time.
Of course it really helped to have friendly go-to faces out there, so many thanks to the friends who came out to hear me. You made it fun.