Just a few miles away from my destination—the Ovitt Library in Ontario, California—I found myself thinking about what a friend had reminded me to do in approaching the presentation I was about to give. I blogged just a couple of days ago about my fears as I neared this moment. My friend, who knew she’d be out of the country and unable to come, had called me before leaving to wish me luck. I mentioned that I’d given a whole slew of speeches in my teen years in my church and had even competed and won an award. She said, “Find the girl. Remember the girl.” I knew that girl still lived on somewhere inside me, so I wrote my friend’s words down and kept them close.
I drove past Chaffey High School. It’s a very large campus on Euclid Avenue, the main drag through Ontario and Upland. I never attended school there; my alma mater is in Pomona, a couple of cities away. But Chaffey remains an important part of my personal story. At the age of five, I appeared as one of the kids in Finian’s Rainbow at the Gardiner W. Spring Auditorium on the campus. I have few memories of those moments, but I have been told that one night a piece of scenery either fell on me or knocked me over. I ran off the stage crying with many commiserating mumblings following from the audience. I recovered quickly and returned for my final scene, and the audience applauded my spunk.
So, as I drove, I remembered the girl—the girl who gave speeches, the girl who played the secondary lead in the high school musical, the girl who walked back out onto a stage at the age of five after an unpleasant encounter with scenery—and I knew I would do well this day when I was about to test that public person.
And I did. There were at least 30 people in the room, a room with bad acoustics, and I connected with many, if not all, of them. They laughed in all the right places. They smiled and I smiled back. I made eye contact. I spoke clearly and relatively succinctly about a 37-year journey making Lisen of Solsta happen. I spoke mostly about self-publishing, something I’ve done through three incarnations and 20 years.
I ate lunch with several of the club members afterwards and enjoyed the company. Being an introvert, it’s hard for me to spend much time out with other people, but I managed to stay for nearly an hour, and that’s pretty damn good for me.
I only sold four books, gave out many bookmarks, lost all four pens I’d brought for people to sign a mail sheet, but three of the pens mysteriously returned before I left. But the fact that I, the zaftig writer, got up in front of people, without a podium, stood for nearly an hour as I talked in clear and ringing tones about a subject both near and dear is where I claim my success. Next time I won’t fret, at least not anywhere near as much as I did this time.
Oh, and did I mention my posse? Several members of my writing workshop who’ve provided valuable critique of everything I write (except for most of what I post here) showed up to cheer me on. My sister came as well. At this time of giving thanks, I give thanks for this day in which I proved to myself I could do it and thanks for the people who helped make it happen.