I give my first reading as a MFA candidate this Friday. It's at a local coffee shop/bar/pizza joint (basically everything legal that college students spend money on) and there will be two other MFA candidates reading as well. Each of us expected to read 10-15 minutes worth of original work. During fall and spring semester the grad student council puts on something they call "The Third Coast Reading Series" -- a lot of things around here get the name Third Coast, including our literary journal. There are roughly four readings per semester and this will be the last one for the spring.
We're expected to do our own publicity (read: paper fliers in mailboxes and on a couple walls) so I designed the one for our group. I'm actually quite proud of it. Actually, for this reading series I'm impressed when anyone puts together anything fancier than clip art of a book along with the time and date. That's my flier on the right. I should have scanned it to make a better picture but I got lazy and just took a picture of it for ya'll.
I've been having dreams about it. Maybe they count as nightmares, I don't know. I go to give my reading and realize I haven't printed out copies to read from! So I go to the coffee shop across the street where people are friendly and there's a printer and I print, but I still miss my scheduled reading time. I think I also lose my shoes. But the friendly people at the second coffee shop tell me it's okay, that I can read at their shop, that I should read there anyway because they're nicer. So I do. I think. And then the mystery machine pulls up and Scooby and the gang get out and get lattes.
I think I'll go print out copies tonight.
But I have logical fears too. Not about the pieces I've chosen to read (I decided what I would be reading back in January when I signed up on the roster), or even about getting up in front of an audience (I've done that before and I've found that practice, bravado and adrenaline serve me very, very well). I'm nervous about the turn out. It would suck to read to an empty coffee shop.
I don't know how the weather is going to play into the situation. It's just started to get nice enough for normal people to enjoy being outside. Does pleasant weather or snowy-but-not-blizzard weather make you want to get out of your apartment and sit in a coffee shop for an hour? I don't know.
Update: I just checked the weather forecast. Friday's high is supposed to be 47 degrees. That's probably the best possible outcome. If it was 70 like it was Tuesday people might get caught up spending time outdoors and then forget about our poor little reading. With a high of 47 there will be limited frolicking out of doors. Thumbs up, forecast, thumbs up.
But the weather is only one factor. The real reason I'm nervous about turn out is that all three of us reading are in our first year in the program. I don't think we've had enough time to make enough friends to have everyone be like yeah! I know them, they're nice, let's go hear them read! We'll certainly have our friends there, the people we've asked to introduce us and a couple fiancees, etc. But after that ...? Hopefully people from our workshops show up. Hopefully we've made enough friends and acquaintances that some of them feel the need to show up whether they show up for support, out of friendship or out of guilt. I will take them in any form; I will take them as they come, just come. Please.