Undiscovered Voices Fellowship – Open Mic Reading
by Gimbiya Kettering
Most days, I do not wonder if I am a good writer.
It isn’t that I am one of those supremely confident, creative types. To the contrary, in my best moments I believe that someday I will be a good writer. Meanwhile, I’m a chronic rewriter and obsessive editor. I believe every piece is almost good-enough and with a little more work, it will be ready.
When I was awarded the Undiscovered Voices Fellowship last year, it felt like a sign that I was, in fact, a good writer. Maybe even a very good writer. It was a sign that I forgot in the humbling experience that is workshop. In classes with Writer’s Center instructors like Susan Land, Patrick Ross, and Amin Ahmad, I learned different techniques and tips that would make my writing better. And since any formal publication feels far-far away, I continue to believe that I would have endless time to make my next draft better.
Then, suddenly it was Father’s Day – the day of the finale reading. And nothing I wrote was good enough to be read in public! I spent the week before rereading my novel-in-progress for an excerpt, practicing reading aloud, and worrying. And worrying more.
By the time I got up to the microphone, I was a so nervous that my mouth was dry and the words blurred. Then I looked into the audience and in the front row was my family, smiling at me encouragingly. I swallowed and started to read, Africa. The whole expanse of it is condensed to a heavy, small stone.
Afterwards, my father – my biggest fan – said he was so proud of me. And he is. He has always been so proud of me. When I doubt my talent, Dad continues to remind me that I am a good writer. I was glad that I could give him the gift of sharing my work: Happy Father’s Day!
I want to thank everyone who came and were so supportive in response to my reading. As the featured writer, I shared the stage with other local writers, including (click on names to visit their websites): Vivian Feggans, Paul Hopper, David Martin, Louise Farmer Smith, Marija Stajic, and Enrique Tapias.
Have you ever read your work in public? What about reading aloud makes you nervous? How do you overcome the stage-fright? Write about it in the comment section below.
Public readings are a wonderful way to build your confidence and a chance for your fans to support your on-going creative process. We invite you to read at the next Open Mic at the Writer’s Center on Sunday, July 29 at 2:00 pm.
Top Tips to Prepare for a Reading
• Edit the excerpt: It is okay to make changes that will make any piece easier to read aloud.
• Print in large font: 12 point is tiny when you're at the podium. I use 16!
* Practice Reading Aloud: So you can time yourself, practice any tricky words, and gain confidence.
Gimbiya Kettering, 2011-2012 Undiscovered Voices Fellow, with her biggest fan -- her father Merlyn Kettering. Application deadline for 2012-2013 Fellowship is30 June 2012. Click Here to Apply.