21st Century Brontë #23 by Brontë Bettencourt
My First Reading
On August 9th, I participated in There Will Be Words. That was the first time I read my work before an audience, and this particular reading focused on fanfiction. Months ago, My editor approached me to join this show. I said yes before the anxiety could set in.
A few weeks before the event, I realized that I wasn’t feeling any of the Marvel fanfiction I wrote. I delved into my free write archives, and encountered my fanfiction for Frozen.
Like millions, including some of you, I expect, I came down with Frozen Fever in November of 2013. I adored the relationship between the sisters, and how imperfectly realistic their personalities felt. My piece was borne from my attachment to Elsa, and how her and Anna’s tragic upbringing felt under-explored by the film.
You can listen to my reading here.
So on the little stage at The Gallery at Avalon Island, I read. I trusted the words to get me through the reading. I know how to read. I know how to read out loud. My friends were in the audience. I did not psyche myself out. I did not lose control of my powers.
I scurried off the stage during what felt like a very long applause from strangers, if also from the friends I invited to the event. (My friends comprised a crowd.) My demeanor remained cool despite my tangled nerves. Months of anticipation ended in less than fifteen minutes, and I wondered why I felt so anxious to read in the first place.
The likelihood of being booed off the stage coupled with airborne tomatoes was minor. The fact that I was specifically invited to read my work suggested that my writing probably would not disappoint.
I’m not sure when the transition occurred to having an audience, of willing readers and listeners. People had been wincing whenever I so much as mention my writing occupation. Back when I worked with a forensics company, another employee and I were tasked with delivering equipment. The two men who we dealt with spent a considerable amount of time asking about my coworker’s major. He was a computer engineer, and questions of his career path and schooling were abundant. While it was awesome to listen to a passionate conversation about servers, I had nothing of value to say on the topic.
When of the workers asked about my major, I proudly announced that I was pursuing a degree in Creative Writing. The silence was downright soggy, until the men asked me if I wanted to be a teacher, and if I wrote the delivery completion forms.
I guess people have a hard time figuring out what a writer does, and if they should take the obvious answer seriously. The eagerness to talk about my writing diminished over time.
Hell, I carried a much longer conversation about my job in unemployment law to several individuals with IT degrees. Over dinner we debated about the rights that an employer should have, and I relayed several outlandish cases that entertained everyone. I didn’t even mention that I was a writer because I knew conversation would sputter out, and I really didn’t want to talk about teaching.
In the anxious build-up, of course, I forgot that the audience at There Will Be Words was comprised of writers, and people who wanted to be there. There were individuals who cared about what I had to say. The applause did not validate my piece, but–there I was, reading my work and mingling with writers in an art gallery in the downtown area. I learned about other local events. I partook in mutual conversations about writing. I listened to other writers read their work without the desire to compete with their work.
Writers unpacked emotions that audiences of the chosen franchises don’t get to see in the canon universe. One of the stories focused on Jason Todd of the Batman universe, recovering from the physical and psychological damage that the Joker’s attempted murder inflicted on him. Another writer somehow fused the psychologies of The Mighty Ducks and Fatal Attraction. I no longer felt insecure about delving into Elsa and Anna’s heads, since others were also thinking deeply on topics that would seem arbitrary to other occupations.
Instead of politely holding conversation, I shared ideas. I didn’t need to hide a part of who I was.
Brontë Bettencourt (Episode 34) graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelors in English Creative Writing. When she’s not writing or working, she is a full time Dungeon Master and Youtube connoisseur.