We went to ZaZa Arts Festival this weekend. It was a small-ish event set up by Krissy Werner, an ALT with the JET Program. There were African drums, paintings, crafts, and later on in the evening, some performance art. Music, bellydancing, and a couple writers reading their work.
I felt stupid. Here I was, standing in the audience, just watching Molly read her story. I didn't feel stupid because Molly was reading (her story and poems were really great); I felt stupid because it wasn't me. All I could think was, "I'm a writer, too, dammit. Why didn't I think of reading something at this event?"
I knew the answer. The reason I didn't bring anything to read was because I never feel like anything is good enough. Even if I feel brilliant during the writing process, even if I feel like I'm saying what I want to say in a way that I like, it just never feels done. I just like to keep things unfinished so that I never have to let them go and have other people read them. If they aren't final, then I can always go back and make them better.
But in that moment, I didn't care about that.
"Can I have the car keys?" I said to Zack. He looked confused but handed them over. I knew that I had cleaned out my backpack--the place where I had been carrying several story and essay drafts--before the trip. I knew that it was hopeless, that I didn't bring anything to read. I would be silent. Another day, another failure. I was thinking these thoughts--almost on the brink of tears because all the beer was making things seem much worse--when I found it. Folded into a small square tucked into the front little pocket of my book bag. My latest attempt at fiction. It was the most complete draft of the story I had written, but I still wasn't sure if it was done. I did a quick read through in the car. I took a breath.
I ran inside with the little square of paper just as Krissy was announcing the next event for the night. I ran up to the stage.
"Hey, Krissy, can I read this story? I can do it later or whatever..."
She looked at me. "You can read it now," she said, and gestured to the mic. I took off my shoes and stepped on the tatami stage.
Alcohol makes a reading much more enjoyable for everyone involved. I wasn't nervous at all. I felt alive and really good about myself for once, good about the words that I had put together. When I finished, people clapped and cheered. One girl said she wanted to quote the story on her Facebook page. (I think that alcohol might have influenced that comment.)
The best part was seeing Zack's face.
"I never heard that before," he said.
"It's just a draft," I said. "It's not finished."
"I think it is," he said. "I think you could submit it."
So that is the story of the miracle at ZaZa Arts Festival. I read my story and have decided that it is ready to be submitted (after some slight nitpick-y editing). It was the first reading I've done in almost two years. I can't wait to share my work with even more people.