By Brandon Walker
I wiped my sweaty palms on the front of my jeans, desperately trying to remain calm.
The room in the Mary JL Black Library was full and I was about to do the unthinkable: read two stories I wrote as a reporter.
I had mixed feelings while waiting for my turn to read – I wanted to tiptoe out of the room, never to be seen again; I wanted my reading to happen immediately; and I wanted it to already be over and done with.
Part of the reason I became a newspaper reporter was for the anonymity. I could attend events, observe, take notes, and then craft a story without people realizing I was there. Truthfully, sometimes I felt like Batman.
Don’t laugh. It’s true.
I didn’t become a reporter for the limelight. But then I became a columnist, which is a whole other animal.
My only goal when writing columns was to entertain and perhaps inspire. A part of me, hidden deep inside, always wondered if people liked what I was writing.
On Tuesday, Nov. 3, I stood at the podium with stories in hand, bracing myself for what was to come. At first, I was scared witless. My mouth dried up (note to self: bring water next time) as I explained that I wrote the first column in Timmins and the second in Thunder Bay.
It was thrilling to read these stories about the tumbles I took while learning how to cross country ski.
After the reading, a few people shook my hand and said they were reminded of when they first tried cross-country skiing and that the stories made them laugh.
People felt like they knew me, which made me feel like a celebrity (Batman, perhaps?). This experience gave me something I’ve never had before – direct access to readers (or, more precisely, listeners), and immediate feedback on my writing.
While writing, every author should consider his or her audience, which is something I have tried to do, but reading in front of an audience is the best way to actually test your material.
It made me want to focus even more on my own writing and I would do it again in a heartbeat.