It's a pretty open secret that I've always been hugely impressed by musicians. Maybe it's because I never had the pull to music, or because my discipline is all different as a writer and a filmmaker. But for whatever reason, I've always been enamoured by the idea of a person getting up in front of a room full of strangers and just sharing something as personal as a song.
This past couple of years, as I've expanded my own output as a writer, I've been quietly envious about anybody that gets to share their own moments and ideas. Of course, as a writer, you're often handing over your own internal monologue to somebody else, letting them layer a voice on the top. And again, as a filmmaker, your dialogue is passed to an actor, and you just have to trust that they're not going to break it.
But I got snagged on an idea a while back that I should start reading my stories aloud. Almost as soon as I thought that, I could feel my heart seizing up with the panic of that, and so I knew that it was the right thing for me to do. You get scared, you've gotta get over it, right?
So this past week, I've been venturing to a couple of open mic nights here in New York - my first experience of it ever, actually, and just throwing my hat in the ring.
The first one was a little intense, but to have my beautiful friends there was simply amazing. And as I tried to learn how to curl my weird mixed accent around my own words, I half-blanked out the people around me. I got my head down, tried to ignore the surreal feeling of 'performing' and just, you know, talked. I got through it okay.
Last night was harder though, if only because this crowd was packed with talent. Comics, singer-songwriters and rappers. I mean, when you wait four hours for your spot, it can be a little terrifying when you're in awe of all these insanely talented people. But sometime after midnight, I got my call.
I did a little pocket recording of it (so it's not the cleanest sound I'm afraid), and actually, sharing it is probably more scary than reading in the first place. But I learned a long time ago that you've gotta deal with things that scare you by just fucken doing them.
So through a dry mouth and a flip-flopping stomach, I read my most recent story. I should have drank more water and maybe increased the font size on the document. I could definitely have looked out to the crowd a little more and gabbled less at the beginning, and sure as hell slowedthefuckdown. However; following on from a flawless room, feeling them as they were being drawn in by my little story and then watching the beat hang as I delivered the last couple of words, shit. That was good. That's what's great about doing this stuff. It's not about being flashy, or trying to impress anybody else, it's just about saying 'this is what I do.'