|Getting into the story. I don't know if the link to the video below works.|
“Performer” is not a word I would pick out to describe myself. I would much rather stay in the background and let myself heard some other way. I did not think my voice would be particularly engaging.
And yet I willingly took on the task when I agreed, last May, to read out portions of a short story during the launch of my friend’s book of short stories.
Perhaps it is because I have a lot of things in common with this friend: Childhood experiences, romantic misadventures, lofty goals and a way of seeing the world. I am privy to how many of her real-life experiences morphed into stories, how some of the real people in her life, and the actual words they uttered, became characters in them. It is her voice, all right, her heart, even though it was fiction.
She let me choose which story to pick an excerpt from and I chose a story I knew in particular to be based on a real conversation on their relationship, a true dilemma she has fortunately since resolved.
I practiced well. Thank God for handy recording devices. When the time came, I took a seat at a table in front, opened the file and took the mic. Fortunately it was an intimate gathering. I tried to forget the terror that came with this first-time performance and concentrated on giving life, as best I could, to the words I already knew so well. I tried to vary my voice for the man, the woman, and the narrator.
As soon as I started reading, the audience disappeared. I became engrossed in telling the story, conveying the desperation and regret and the love behind the simple words. The last word was met with applause -- whether the audience was appreciative or plain polite I can never tell.
In the end I realized it was never about me. It was about the words I gave life to, the story I tried to do justice to.
I’ve been writing for decades, but the utterance of words made me accord them a new reverence. Now when I come across things on the Internet, or in books, I read them aloud and discover how rich they are -- certainly more than letters strung together.