Reading from my work
One of the graduation requirements during the final residency is to read from the work we produced during our time at Vermont College. I was a little nervous about this.
The night before my reading I went out for supper with another student and Margaret Bechard, my 3rd-semester advisor. Margaret would be introducing me because my 4th-semester advisor, Ellen Howard, was unable to come to this residency. I asked Margaret what she was going to say in her intro. I wanted to make sure it was nothing mushy. She assured me it was not.
As the day approached (last Wed.), my anxiety mounted, and I finally realized why I was so anxious. It wasn't the reading itself so much as fear of getting choked up in front of an audience.
To help ease my tension, I drank another helpful, foamy beverage during the lecture right before the reading. My classmate, Mary Atkinson, read first from her wonderful middle grade novel. I listened carefully and was totally absorbed in her story.
Then Margaret Bechard went to the podium and I held my breath. She said she had fun working with me on my critical thesis on girl detective fiction (she thought she had more fun than I did--not true except for when she suggested I add another 10 pages or so, which I declined). She then relayed some of Ellen Howard's unmushy comments--that I was an easy student to work with and that she was proud of how far I'd come.
When I got to the podium, I could tell that, despite the helpful beverage, I still wouldn't be able to keep it together if I thanked people, as VC custom dictates. Instead, I said I had to forego the traditional thank yous in order to maintain my composure. And then I read my YA short story about a family shopping trip.
As Ellen Howard had suggested, I had practiced it several times, so I was able to read it with inflection and make it more of a performance. It was easier than I had expected. And then I gave my advisors the calligraphy pieces I'd prepared for them and happily accepted their congratulations.