Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pushing your comfort zone to a new level ...

Hi honey, I'm home!

Things I don't recommend
1) Living out of a suitcase that has been packed with what came out of an earlier suitcase
2) straining your vocal chords at the first of your speaking engagements
3) not taking the opportunity to buy dinner at 4.30pm before embarking on connecting flights and shuttle trips that get you to your dark, cold, lonely door at 10pm at night
4) not taking the opportunity to say hello to your writing idols and as-yet-unmet confreres
5) going for long periods without writing

Things I do recommend
1) saying yes to opportunities
2) stepping outside of your comfort zone
3) accepting the offer of a microphone
4) having some fall-back-position intelligent comments to whip out in those brain scrambled moments
5) being yourself

Wow, it may take me a while to process all the events I have been involved in over the last few weeks. It has been a whirlwind odyssey of talks, workshops, presentations and panel discussions. High point? All of it (especially getting to hang out with other writers, even if I was too shy to speak to half of them). Low point - not having more time in between to appreciate it all. Sometimes I just wanted to slow it all down and enjoy the moment.

There is no denying that it can be stressful facing a room full of strangers and trying to interest and entertain them. People asked me afterwards how the talks went. Unfortunately I have a natural tendency to immediately focus on things I wish I'd said, or things I wish I hadn't said, or forget everything that just happened, so I can never really judge these things. The litmus test in the talks to school students is if someone came up afterwards and shyly told me that they want to be a writer too, or that they felt inspired by what I said. And they did. They remind me of me at that age. I hope I've made a positive difference for them.

People say they couldn't imagine themselves standing up there on the stage giving talks. They don't know how folk do it. I don't know either. It is scary - I was speaking to one well known international writer before one of my talks and she too was anxious about her next event - had she pitched it right for the audience, she wondered. Trepidation is not unusual, even for the most seasoned performers. In the end, I focused on these events as opportunities to hopefully say something useful as well as interesting. To help others be inspired, or avoid pitfalls and mistakes, or just love books, and reading and words, and perhaps writing, just a little bit more. It was petrifying and exciting all at once. I have to say I felt very alive during the whole experience. And I've discovered that my comfort zone is transforming. There is a new normal. And I'm now very happy to return to my quiet, lonely garret to write.

1 comment:

Jane Bloomfield said...

You exude an air of intelligent calm when you're in front of an audience Melinda! And go you, what a stellar effort. Happy quiet writing time.