Confessions of a Writer: Stage Fright

by Brandi Ziegler

Everything that doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. And later on you can use it in some story.

~ Tapani Bagge

My church hosted a Passover Seder last Saturday. One of my closest friends – who’s an Elder of the church – orchestrated the entire event. Everyone else got sick with this exhausting illness (I was getting over it myself). Friday she asked if I’d read some Scripture since the original cast lacked voices. You guys:

I can’t stand reading out loud.

Ever since I was little I disliked reading out loud. I remained silent when called to read in my elementary school classes. In actually, my eyesight sucked and I was too young and embarrassed to say anything. If I squinted I could read the words in my text books, but the words on the board were blurred, curvy lines. Eventually they figured it out and I got glasses. Mine made BCGs look attractive. I wanted to trade places with the discarded gum wads underneath my chair. I still refused to read in class, but at least things were cleared up about my intelligence. The upside: my book addiction doubled with my new eyesight.

That fear has stuck with me. So when my friend asked of course I said yes, but inside I was freaking out. I thought I was going to read maybe two or three verses but what was I thinking – it was a Seder. I read Scripture for hours, twisting into a pretzel of discomfort as I concentrated on keeping my voice steady and not f’ing up the words. I stayed calm when I came across a word I couldn’t pronounce, mostly because we had to drink wine as part of the ceremony.

Strangely, afterwards I had at least five people tell me how much they loved my voice. Apparently my voice is calming with this amazing ability to paint the story across the reader’s mind. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this, but it’s probably the first time it’s beginning to sink in: I seem pretty dang good at reading out loud. Which is a total relief because I’ve dreaded the reality of having to read excerpts from my books for years.