A little something called The Moth. If you know what it is, then you get it. If you have never heard of The Moth, then stop reading this, go to The Moth podcast and listen to any episode. It's the ultimate in story telling. Live events are held all over the country and people go, put their name in a hat or bag or whatever is most convenient, and then ten names are drawn for that evening's event. There is a theme, a five minute time limit and a requirement that the story be true, personal and told without notes.
This has been a bucket list item for me since I first started listening to the podcast. But while I told people of my dream, waxed poetic on the idea of getting up on a stage and speaking into the brightly lit void to an audience of strangers, I never, ever, thought it was something I'd actually do.
Until I told a friend of mine in passing about my lofty idea, how I love this podcast for the breadth of stories, the courage of the everyday people who get up to tell them, the depth of emotion some stories bring out in me, the laughter, the tears, the awe.
And she agreed. Wholeheartedly. Before I knew it, I was looking up Moth events in my area and much to my surprise, one was coming up in the next month and the theme was Mama Rules.
How perfect, I thought, and tried to ignore that first twinge of fear and doubt gnawing on my insides. I sent a text to my friend. Hey, there's a Moth Story Slam here. We should do it. And when I didn't hear back from her immediately, I breathed out, relieved. Well, at least I tried.
A few days later over coffee, I mentioned it to a few friends in broad brush strokes of enthusiasm, not expecting any kind of response other than, wow, that sounds interesting and how cool of you to want to do it. Instead I got, let's do it.
Sometimes it sucks to have awesome friends.
Last Friday it happened. My friends and I went to a Story Slam. I'm a writer and I write emotions and reactions for fictional characters for a living. So to feel my heart literally pound against my chest as I waited with excitement and trepidation for my name to be called, felt both professionally validating and surreal. Because our hearts actually do beat and pound and thump and our blood really does pulse in our ears. It was exhilarating and I was nervous as hell.
And then my name was called.
The telling is a blur. I remember the faces in the audience, softened and obscured by the blue stage lights so that I was speaking into a muddied void. An image that was comforting and vexing at the same time because I longed to see the encouraging smiles of my friends just beyond the glare. I remember the laughter and applause, which was especially comforting since I was telling my Christmas Fingers story, a not particularly flattering mom moment. And I remember when I took my seat afterwards and for the first time that evening, my heart beat slow and normal.
But this was the whole point. I wanted to be scared and nervous and unsure of myself. I wanted to push myself out of my everyday comfort zone and feel raw and vulnerable. And I'm glad I did because in a few months my first book, my debut baby, will be released to the world and while I can't predict how well it will do, I can tell you that I'm nervous as hell. Soon, it will be my book, my characters, my story that takes the stage.
But now that I know what it feels like, I'm ready to face the void.