The first step is: don’t take my advice. For sure. I am not someone to listen to.
As Georgette described wonderfully here, all of us poor writers participated in a reading last week. And by participated, I mean, we read things in front of people. Things we wrote. (Gasp. So brave. Much courage. Wow.) (I apologize for that.)
Second: make a commitment. After I sent Georgette a text along the line of “Sure! Definitely! Absolutely sounds fun!” I immediately sent a “No! Why! I am terrified!” text right after. Commit. Sure, it’s embarrassing listening to your quavery voice in front of a roomful of people in Brooklyn, but it’s more embarrassing to back out now. Own it.
Third: don’t get nervous when walking past all the factories/warehouses/cool restaurants in Brooklyn. You will be ok, maybe. (It helped that I found Georgette in the Subway and we braved the frigid darkness together.)
Fourth: alcohol. To calm nerves, celebrate, or commiserate.
Fifth: eat some cheese fries. This isn’t crucial but it’s always a good fifth step.
Sixth: make sure you brought what you decided you were going to read. Make sure you have all your pages. Make some last minute cross outs and revisions.
Seventh: listen to your cohorts. All the other people standing in the room reading things they wrote. They will be amazing and make you happy and sad and glad that you decided to commit to be in this room.
Eighth: Clear your throat.
Ninth: Listen to your introduction. Smile because you lied and said you were a cliff diver because there is nothing interesting about you.
Tenth: Start reading. You’ll be fine. I am.