I drew in a shaky breath, trying to remember that being nervous was the whole point.
It was one hour before show time, and I was on the list of scheduled performances for that evening’s New Works Showcase. Well, the play I had written was, anyway.
Standing in the Black Box Theater, I still couldn’t believe what was about to happen. In less than an hour, my short play would be shared with an audience for the very first time.
I had never shared my work so publicly before. And while I wasn’t regretting my decision to put my work out there, I couldn’t help feeling a little nervous. Okay, a lot nervous. I mean, what if the audience hated it? What if they got up and left in the middle of the show?
What if—I stopped myself. If I ever intended on being a writer I knew I had to get over my fear of sharing my work with an audience. I mean, if you plan on writing books for a living sooner or later someone will need to read them. That’s kind of how it works, after all.
I sat back in my chair as the lights dimmed and members of the cast took their places on stage. The showcase was starting.
It’s impossible to articulate the intensity and variety of positive emotion I felt as I watched them up on stage bringing my story to life, but I will say this: It was better and more fulfilling than anything I could have ever imagined. Sure, I had seen them perform in the rehearsals we’d had in the days leading up to the show, but in that moment the actors created something authentic. They brought life to the moment and shared it with the audience. And I was there to witness it all, sitting in the back, grinning wildly like an insanely proud parent.
When the host of the showcase wrapped things up, I bolted straight up out of my seat and raced toward the cast of my play. I needed to give some hugs, pronto! Just as I was suggesting we all get together for a group photo, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A member of the audience was standing patiently behind me.
“That was really beautiful,” he said once I turned around. He must have identified me as the writer of the piece because I was standing with the group of actors he had just seen up on stage.
“Thank you!” I said, the elation lighting up my face. Could this night get any better?!
As he disappeared back into the crowd, I felt a warmth unfolding throughout my entire body. And I realized that even if the show had indeed flopped as I feared, it wouldn’t have mattered. Whether that man told me the play was beautiful or that it sucked, he was giving me feedback. Now I understood the value of sharing work with the world: If you are lucky enough, someone just might say something back in response.