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ZAGWRITER's avatar

Should I Go and Perform at an Event for the Arts Magazine at my Former School?

Asked by ZAGWRITER (1506points) January 14th, 2011

I graduated in December. In November, I submitted a short story to the arts magazine at the university. Yesterday, I get an email that invited me as a submitter to the magazine to perform what I submitted at an on campus coffee shop.

So, I’m pretty nervous and terrified at the thought of getting up behind a mike at this thing. I would do o.k. or well saying it out loud, but I’m not sure I can add the emotion where it needs to go. It makes me wonder if it is being used as criteria to judge whether it gets published or not, or I keep wondering if it would hurt my chances if I didn’t go.

Another thing that I keep thinking about is whether or not it is a piece that would sound good read out loud. I keep envisioning a performance piece that gets booed off the stage or something.

Needless to say, I’m nervous. I’m thinking I should go and just listen to the others. What do you think? I’ve never recited a piece of mine out loud before. Should I go, since I have already graduated? Has anyone else been in a similar situation before? Thank you for your time.

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10 Answers

funkdaddy's avatar

If you’re being asked to read it, that means someone really enjoyed and saw a lot of value in your writing. Be proud of that. Congrats.

I would read it out loud for a few people you trust to get a better feel for it. Do they feel it keeps their attention for the full length? Do you feel confident reading it? Is the meaning clear when it’s read out loud? Did they like it?

I think a lot of your questions could be answered that way and in a less imposing environment.

do you want to link it here?

ZAGWRITER's avatar

Thanks for the nice comments!

I’ll think about it. I get nervous showing others what I write. However, you are supposed to “Murder your darlings”, right?

BarnacleBill's avatar

This sounds like a great opportunity to practice doing readings of your work, something published writers are often called upon to do, with some regularity.

From a public speaking perspective, you will want to speak a little slower and deliberatively than you would in a normal conversation. It will feel odd to you, but will sound normal to the listener. It allows you to keep control over your words, project, and add inflections. You can add inflection by practicing what you are going to say by reading it, but instead use “buh” for each syllable. It allows to hear the stresses and changes in cadence needed to make the piece sound correct to your ear; if you speak too quickly, it will sound jumbled doing this, and you will know where you need to slow down or mind the punctuation.

Congratulations on being selected!

iphigeneia's avatar

I would recommend getting some tips from a friend who is involved in theatre, if you feel that emotion would be suitable for the reading. They should be able to give you advice on building suspense, capturing the audience, the different ways you can use your voice, etc.

I find that reading my work out loud for others helps me to get a new perspective on it, and how I approach writing in general. It should be a fun experience!

marinelife's avatar

It’s an honor. You should practice putting the emotion in when you read it and go.

Judi's avatar

What is the worst that can happen? If you don’t do it you will regret it for the rest of your life. Just do it.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Awww, sounds like you have stage fright! But it also sounds like you have a talent that might require you to get over your stage fright in order to reach your full potential. I think you should do it, but first practice it in front of a friend who can give you pointers on where to put the emphases and pauses. Rehearsing beforehand might relieve some of your stress.

submariner's avatar

OP: What have you got to lose? If performance is one of the criteria for judging, then not performing must be worse than performing poorly.

The only thing that should make you hesitate is the point you raised about whether the piece is appropriate for oral delivery. Writing and speaking are not the same. Anyone who has ever gone to an academic conference and had to sit through some scholar’s reading of a paper that was meant to be read in a journal, with no adaptation for oral presentation, knows what I mean—but I think you understand this already. Some writers write in a voice that works well in an oral presentation; others clearly write strictly for the printed page. If you do not feel that your work should be presented this way, then don’t do it. Alternatively, you might make some changes for the performance that would make an oral presentation of your work feasible. Read it aloud by yourself or to a friend and see what you feel.

Strauss's avatar

@ZAGWRITER How did it go? Did you perform?

ZAGWRITER's avatar

Nope, sadly, it was over like 10 minutes after I got there.

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