♫♪'Carry On' - fun ♫♪
What happened to me?
If you had asked me a year ago to stand alone on stage and read out my most personal thoughts to a group of strangers, I would have politely declined and then sprinted away from you before you had a chance to convince me to try it.
It's not that I get really nervous (I mean I do about 5 minutes before I get on stage) about reading my deepest, darkest thoughts, it's more about stumbling over my own tongue and humiliating myself by stammering, squinting and hating the sound of my own voice.
But I did it anyway because I had a story to tell.
I was invited to read at a women's open mic event at The Book Club, hosted by For Book's Sake.
I had planned to read poems and mini-essays from my book 'Otherness', but at the last minute, I whipped out my Nasty Women essay that I'd printed out at work and read that instead.
I hadn't rehearsed it, forgot my glasses and I had also made the mistake of printing it out in size 9 font. Not forgetting to mention that the shadow of my microphone darkened the pages (yah, yah excuses...), so I basically had to improvise!
All these things did happen on the day, but I've learnt to carry on and laugh it off! The audience was with me even though I ended up speaking for almost half an hour (was meant to be 15 minutes, lololol).
My best mate was there cheering me on like the start that she is and it was honestly the best feeling.
What's so lovely about these events are the other readers, some veterans and some total novices like myself all cheered each other on and I loved all their pieces. We had ghost stories, slam poetry and hilarious anecdotes and brave tales about sexual assault survival.
I am in awe of all the other women who performed.
- - -
If you haven't heard of the Nasty Women book by now, WHERE THE F**K HAVE YOU BEEN? It's a collection of essays written by women about what it's like to be a woman in the 21st Century.
Our funding period ran from 1st January to the 30th January, and we managed to hit our goal in just 2 DAYS! - £6000. At the end of the month, our total was just over £22000 with 1336 supporters and none of us could quite believe it.
Laura and Heather, the founders of 404ink have done an incredible job with this project and I still can't believe I'm a part of it.
Our book has been backed by the likes of Marget Atwood (omg!!), Nikesh Shukla (The Good Immigrant) and Louise O'Neill.
I had a story to tell.
I wrote it. I read it.
And now you can read it in Nasty Women at the beginning of March, just in time for International Women's Day.
In my chapter, I take you through the timeline of my life - from experiencing upfront racism for the first time, aged 7, to present day white feminism, which denies me (and women who look like me) a voice in the movement.
WARNING: It's not an easy read, with sunshine and rainbows - my life isn't like that and I don't think anyone's is. It's painfully honest from the start and since I published my diary, I have little fear because you never know who you might help with your words.
What's my next mission? I hear you ask...
Well, I'll be giving a solo lecture/Q&A at the Scottish Young Publisher's Conference in Edinburgh on the 3rd March. Come see me discuss 'The Good Immigrant' and Unbound's unique publishing model that got it into our hands.
Would you ever give a reading at an open mic? What would you read?