Showing your creative work to people is intimidating. Reading it aloud, more so. And with a mic, to a pub full of strangers, are you insane? But when I walked into The Empress last Wednesday night for Read You Bastards there was an anticipatory vibe. Encouraging. Supportive, even.
Before I could wallflower myself, I wrote my name down to read. Volunteered alongside published guest speakers, seasoned Read You Bastards regulars, and fellow open mic virgins. There was no getting out of this. I took my seat with some quality pub grub, a bottle of booze, and looked around. I was among friends.
Our hosts made a night and a half of it, with kooky door prizes between sets (I won the appropriately titled Mills & Boon Man-Hater—my story ‘Nesting Season’ is about a woman who murders her lover in a cemetery), live music, and encouragement aplenty. Hearing authors and poets perform their work gives it a flavour you can’t taste from reading it yourself.
Then my name was called, my hideously scrawled bio deciphered. I was up on stage. Lights blurred out most of the audience. Blind and deaf to everything but my beginner’s violin voice, I was in the story. I was the story. It was adrenalin-city.
Then it was over. I took my seat, still shuddering. I looked around. Still among friends. And all I wanted was to get up there and do it again.
Christine Priestly is currently studying for her Master of Arts in Writing and Literature at Deakin University. She writes fiction and creative non-fiction and knows you can never own too many pairs of stilettos or love enough cats.