I was brave, like Aslan. I did it; I spoke on a panel, on a stage, in front of a large number of people. I’m pretty confident about my ability to address primary school-aged students, but I have a long held fear of public speaking in front of adults. I’m here to say: I did it, and I’m thrilled. I actually really enjoyed myself.
I was nervous at the Friday night launch of Knitting and other stories, and then, serendipitously, the pianist began to play Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1. I’m not particularly superstitious, but it was an uncanny moment, a rather amazing coincidence. You see, this piece of music is one that I’ve revisited many times over the last couple of years. It speaks to me of a certain comfortable resignation about what is yet to come in one’s life. It sounds silly, I know, but the melody was soothing.
Things could have been different, I think, if the other panel members and various authors and personalities had not been so very warm and accommodating. I met some fine people at the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival; some fine people with whom I felt a kinship of sorts. What I found most comforting was the authenticity with which these individuals spoke; they helped me to feel at ease.
I want to thank my dear darling friend, RedBec, for being my ‘pushy mum at the sidelines’ (her words). If it weren’t for her, and a number of other friends and family members, I may have been a chicken. When I was asked to speak on the panel, my immediate impulse was to retreat. ‘No. No. No.’ said every part of my physiology. But Bec spoke, loud and wise and clear as always: ‘You WILL do this Kristen.’ And I knew I would.
I’m always conscious of the modeling that I’m projecting to my children. I told my son that I was terrified, but that I would still ‘have a go’. I told him that I love writing; that I want to write stories for the rest of my life and that ultimately, I’d like to be published. I want my stories to be read. And sometimes, to edge closer to the dream, we have to step outside of our comfort zone. I’m grasping for a quote that I vaguely remember…I think it was Jeff Buckley who said something in a doco about how, quite often, the most amazing, most defining moments in life happen when we put ourselves on the line, step beyond our ‘safe place’. The weekend was all I had hoped for and more.
It’s funny though, sometimes the closer you get, the more elusive the dream of publication feels. If you could see inside my head right now, you’d see a hundred or more sticky notes. I want to capitalize on this momentum, but I’m also a pragmatist. I have school reports to write first; children’s clothes to launder; grocery shopping to do. One day, I’ll be able to make my writing my first priority. The time is not now, but I think it’s close. For now, I’ll fit it in around the edges and continue to ‘have a go’.
Here are a few of the people I met over the weekend. My son met Andy Griffiths and now he’s penning his first novel, complete with toilet humour, comics and Griffith’s abject and macabre themes. I’m so pleased that he came home as inspired as his mother.