My mother always told me God has a sense of humor. I believe her.
Growing up, I was terribly shy. Perhaps because I felt so uncomfortable speaking, I turned to writing. There, in the safety of my Hello Kitty journal, I could express my innermost fears, my hurts, and also my dreams and loves and cherished memories.
As I grew up, I continued to write. I wrote for my high school newspaper and became copywriter for my high school yearbook, and when I went off to college I submitted poetry to my college’s paper. While still an undergrad, I worked my way up from staff writer to editor in chief of a local indie newspaper and also began interviewing musicians for national magazines. After college, I entered the world of book publishing, where to this day I blissfully sit in silence, getting paid to read for a living. It’s the perfect job for an introvert.
Although I love editing and working with other authors and editors and designers, I always dreamed of writing my own book, so I’ve continued to work on my own writing. My weekends are spent at the library or in the bookstore, crafting sentences. I try to pour my heart out with the same abandon as I did when I was writing in the privacy of my little journal with the lock on it when I was a child, except now I’m working toward having people actually read my work. I revise, I get feedback, I pitch, I query. –And I get silence. It feels like I rarely hear back from acquiring editors. Writing is what I’m supposed to be good at. It’s what I’ve always been told I’m good at. And yet I have a hard time placing my writing in publications.
Instead, the skill I grew up thinking was my weakest is the one being called into action. I don’t go out trying to book readings, but time and time again, I’m called upon to give readings and to teach. It’s public speaking in all its knee-shaking glory.
I’m immensely thankful for these opportunities, and they’ve all gone pleasantly well, but I have to laugh that I seem to get more speaking engagements than publishing credits.
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As I was writing this very post a few days ago, I got a message from poet and musician RA Araya asking me to read a poem in Greek at Sunday’s reading. Talk about irony! The memoir I’ve been writing deals with my conflicted Greek identity and the fact that I don’t speak Greek. Now, as I was writing about laughing over the fact that I’m having to overcome my introverted tendencies to give readings, I’m asked to read in the very language I don’t speak.
But you know what? I said yes.
Maybe I’ll crash and burn and make a fool of myself, but at least I’ll have tried. Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Life is too short to be scared of anything. Living means growing, and the best way to grow it to try new things. Challenging yourself can lead to rewards. I believe people surprise themselves and rise to occasions. I’ve also learned that people want you to succeed and that literary crowds tends to be rather supportive.
I’m actually excited about this opportunity. It’s a great way to promote the beauty of the Greek language and culture during Greece’s economic crisis, and I’m thinking I may read something in an archaic Greek dialect (I studied Classical Greek at Pomona College), a dead language, to further bring awareness to endangered languages.
If you’re in New York, stop by. I can’t promise perfection, but we will have fun!! Here’s the info:::
August 12, 2012. 5:00-9:00pm. The Sidewalk Cafe (94 Avenue A). New York, NY. Stephanie will be reading from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, as part of RA’s Music Poetry Jam Celebration. flashbackpuppy, Patricia Spears Jones, Sparrow, Puma Perl, Kate Levin, Sarah Sarai, Foamola, Virdell Williams, and Steve will also be taking the stage. Free, but there’s a one-drink minimum.
Now… what to wear?
Also! Save the date::: September 3 I’m giving a reading that I’m beyond excited about. Details to come soon.
Do you ever find that the very skill you least like using or think is your weakest is the one you need to rely on the most? What do you think of Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to push yourself to do the things that scare you?