On Performance Anxiety…
Yes Yes and again Yes. I DO get anxious, big time. Today I spoke on two panels at the Writers’ Faire at UCLA Extension. It was a gorgeous day outside, not too warm, a nice crowd. Yet the two panels were very different. When I think about I should have heeded the sign: I spilled my iced coffee on the check-in table, dropped my purse twice.
But on I went: my first panel — one of the first of the day — I felt off my mark. It was in a huge lecture hall, I had little sleep the night before because I do not feel comfortable in front of an audience when I am not in complete control of the situation. (This is why I can do well on my own poetry readings because I know most of my poetry by heart and there are few fluctuations or untoward changes to deal with.) With me were three other writers – two novelists, a poet/memoirist who teaches online — and myself. At first the microphones did not work, one of the other panelists was stuck on the 405 but got there in the nick of time, the air conditioner was on the fritz. I was not a happy camper although I tried very hard to be. My jokes were flat, my class pitches dead. I could have been a cypher on a stool and gotten the same response.
The second panel was in a smaller classroom — filled to the rafters with students on the floor,in the hallway, we could not fit them all in. I felt much more at ease, perhaps because of Leon Martel, the excellent panel facilitator who brought out the best each of us. Everyone was engaged: students, speakers. At the end, I had 8 or 9 people waiting in the hall to speak to me.
OK, maybe I need to be needed just like everyone else, to feel that my chosen profession has worth, and by extrapolation, I do as well.
Enuf said for now.