Barely. It was a nerve-wracking evening to say the least.
I arrive, turn in my form with the title (now Swamp Witch) and logline and pick up my program and name tag. Sit down with my buds and open the program. It still says "Vesta" as the title and I'm #13 in the line up. That means I'm after the intermission. Great. Lots of time to worry.
More people show up. At the cool kids' table, we have Jenny, Shane, Ali, Nicole, Fleur, John and me from the Pirates plus another John, Joe and Iron John's folks. Cool, indeed. I listen to the other people reading. Some are excellent. Some, not so much. Listen to the feedback. Don't agree with all of it, but then you never do. It's a subjective business.
Intermission. Time for a trip to the bar so I can have a nice cold glass of pinot grigio waiting when I come off stage. It'll go nicely with the two petit fours (would that be a petit eight then?) saved as a reward. And, of course, a visit to the ladies room.
First person after the break gets up and reads. I sort of hear it. Sip some water. Then the one before me. I stand up and move into position. Feel for a moment like I'm going to pass out. Breathe. Again. People applaud. I climb the three steps. Put my paper on the podium (plexiglass so I can't really hide behind it-damn!). Hang on to the podium so I don't fall over. Start to read. My voice is shaking so I take a deeper breath and speak louder. Seems to have steadied. Keep reading. Look up. So many people out there. First page done. Do the voice. Do the voice. Okay, that sounded deeper to me. Different. Did anyone else catch it? "finds it hard to ignore." Done. Applause. Smile. Turn to judges. They're applauding. Seems geniune. Feedback starts. "Great premise." blah blah blah "Backstory bad." blah blah "Good metaphors. Nice description." blah "Backstory really bad." blah "Wanted some religious symbols after hearing the logline." Huh? More applause. Return to seat. Don't trip. Congratulations from the table. Where's the wine?
Then it was Fleur's turn. She rocked the house and ended up winning for Best Tension. Abso-freakin'-lutely. John followed her with his fabulous reading. I'd heard it before and was still on the edge of my seat and laughing at the same time. Hard to pull off. But he did, and should have won for Best Thriller.
I know the person who won the Audience Favorite and Best Overall. I almost voted for her for Audience Favorite because her writing and reading were great. How can you go wrong with a woman's reaction to being next to the stage at a strip club watching another woman dance?
I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that I didn't win. Especially when one of the categories was "Best Premise". But the feedback about not going into back story on page two might very well be valid. It doesn't really need to be there. It's only two sentences, but still. The religious symbols? Not so much. She's going home to have dinner with the preacher, for pity sakes. Two more pages and we'd be there. But I got up and read and survived. I'm glad I did it for that reason. I don't have to do it again. And I doubt I will. At least in that setting.
Oh, I won a fabulous door prize. So between that, overcoming one of my big fears for a few minutes, seeing a couple friends win big and hanging out with my buds (who were so greatly supportive and I can't ever thank them enough for that), it was in the end a great evening.