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Musing

Singing Like You Mean It

May 22, 2014

Tags: Readings, Pratt Library

It wasn't easy getting the invitation to read at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore. First, my friend Connie emailed the events coordinator at the library (several times), then I followed up and talked my way into an “Authors Live” date. Then I got a date and had to cancel it when a family member had emergency surgery. Then the library graciously rescheduled it - for a Monday night in May. As a former events person, I knew that Monday was a tough night to get folks out of the house. Still, I was honored to have been asked.

But prior to the reading, my own life got in the way. There were finals to be read, another festival date in Ohio to travel to, an essay deadline. In other words, I didn’t do much more than a Facebook invite to get the word out, and I was nervous that no one would show up.

And this made me reluctant to show up. Maybe it’s because the promotional circuit was starting to wear on me or because most of my friends Baltimore already RSVP-ed that they would be out of town or at work or anywhere but in the library that night. But as I sat down to prepare that afternoon, I realized it didn’t matter who was there. If there was one person in the room, I needed to make it worth their while – and mine.
I remembered back to the days of being a singer in a band and having to play the dreaded weekday date in dive clubs on when no one but the neighborhood drunk could be reliably depended on to show up. My manager, (now, my husband), used to tell us, “If there are two people in the room, one of them might be a talent scout. You never know what a gig will lead to. And at the very least, it’s the best kind of practice. So give it your best, no matter how many people are in the audience. Sing like you mean it.”

The librarians at Pratt were welcoming and treated me like a guest of honor. The Poe Room, where I was reading, was beautiful. A few people shuffled in, two of them being the writer Marion Winik and her daughter Jane. Marion is an author I greatly admire (funny, smart, honest) and in fact, she and I are slated to read together at the Writer’s Center in DC in a week and a half.

As I prepared to read, one of the staff told me the reading would be recorded for a podcast and available on the Library website. I shook my head at the close call of almost giving in my sulking self, glad that I woke up in time to prepare a decent reading and to come with a grateful heart.

So with Edgar Allen staring back at me from his portrait on the wall, I read and practiced slowing down and being present and making eye contact. I sold a few books afterward and was given a cool little gift bag from the library and information on when the podcast would be up and running.

As I walked out of the library that night, I remembered how two years ago, before the wheels began to turn to make my story into a book, I would have been amazed to have see my picture as a six foot tall poster in the big window overlooking Cathedral Street. It was cool, I had to admit.

I no longer dream of being a rock star. Who would guessed that being booked in a library would mean as much to me as opening for “X” or playing a gig for thousands at an open air festival? For me, now, this is it.

Funny how things work out.

For information on the June 1st reading at The Writers Center with Marion Winik:
http://www.writer.org/page.aspx?pid=299&cid=1&ceid=933&cerid=0&cdt=6%2f1%2f2014

Comments

  1. May 22, 2014 6:12 PM EDT
    Who says you're not a rock star? What you bring to the page and the stage is as awesome as any 200 decibel guitar solo. And yes, being grateful is the surest way to attract what you've been dreaming of. I'm sure everyone who attended was thrilled.
    - Connie Harold