So I made myself sick (no not from the 2 rum and cokes I had on Saturday night… but they did make the bright coloured cloths more fun at Frenchies the next day… I’m really not supposed to mix my medication with alcohol.) And it wasn’t a cold sick either; it was a shaking noxious feeling all through my body.
While taking the writing workshop from Nina Munteanu, she suggested that we use our fellow classmates to start a writing group. Of course it was a good idea; we all had her workshop to bring us together. A few of us, who didn’t really know much about each other, exchanged names and e-mail addresses and we agreed to meet the first Saturday of the month.
I used the meeting as a deadline, to take the last criticism I was given about my story “Reaching” and improve the story, so I could read it out loud (I’ll have to start making more deadlines for my writing). The narrator, who is also the main character says “I” a lot, so I fixed it up based on the over abundance of “I’s”, any grammar mistakes I could find and missing words, or words that show up too often.
When I got to the library, we spoke of what our goals were with this group: something I still need to define for myself as “I want to work with other people and share writing…” is a bit of a cop out, so I’ll work on that too. We spoke for a long time about our own writing and what we do and I mentioned that I brought my writing with me, so in the third quarter of the writing group I read “Reaching.”
I didn’t figure reading out loud would be a problem. I have a degree in theatre which involved a lot of sharing stories, my own and others, with people, and after a few years of sitting in the closest thing to a corner I could find at a call centre, I finally broke out of that “I’m shy and don’t want to talk to anyone mode.” Really, there’s not very much I won’t say and I’m not afraid to speak to strangers when needed. In high school I read my own story out loud about a girl who had lost her father and after no emotional attachment when writing I started to cry in front of everyone. I had to hand the story over to someone else to finish. So other then the fact that I hopped I didn’t cry, I didn’t think there was going to be a problem reading my story out loud. After all, a lot had happened since high school.
After the second page my voice started to shake and my mind started to think about what I was saying, I began to wonder what everyone else was thinking. I wondered what my images were like that I was presenting people with. I started to think of the story as a whole, not as sentences and paragraphs.
In university one of the students wrote a play where she took her emotions and over exaggerated them to the point where it made people uncomfortable and embarrassed. And as I was reading there were paragraphs that stepped outside of the comfort and flow of the story and made me uncomfortable, they were too much for this little story. All this sharing of emotion, this hearing my story another way started to affect me. My voice continued to quiver and shake. My mouth became dry and I began circling the things that I needed to change. It’s not very much mind you, but the experience was new and very helpful, and frightening.
When I was finished I poured myself a good glass of town water and we finished the workshop. I went to the mall. It was on the way to the mall that I got nervous. My body started to shake and by the time I gave my prunes and frozen raspberries to the girl at the checkout I was worried I was going to throw up on her. I added a bottle of water to the groceries and when I got to the food court I took out two Tylenols to settle my stomach. I guess telling a dirty joke to your friends at work is a little different than sharing a story that is very personal to a group of people. It was a big step. But I feel better and more confident for doing it.
And then I had two rum and coke.