Posted by: Joelle Burnette | July 29, 2012

Open mic reading gets laughs

I recently found out that the Redwood Writers offers a monthly open mic session at a local coffee house, and I thought I would give it a go. So far, at my previous speaking engagements for my book Cancer Time Bomb, I’ve only spoken about the book, but I haven’t read from the book. I must say, I was more nervous reading from the book.

First, I hate how I read. I’ve never been a very strong reader, especially out loud, and I didn’t want to stutter my way through a few pages in front of other writers.

When I arrived pulling my rolling backpack toting books to sell, I raced to get on the list of readers, likely upsetting some of the other writers; they had arrived earlier than I, and had been patiently waiting for someone to start a list.

Well, fuck it. All writers, whether they admit it or not, are all desperate for attention and approval, and I remember how long I had to wait to read something at a writers’ conference in Los Angeles when I didn’t race to get on the list.

Once the list was signed, I hobbled my way to some remaining chairs around the largest table in the room. It was a dining room table with matching chairs likely rescued from a garage sale. When I sat down in one of the aged chairs, I knew lack of support in the bumpy cushion would quickly begin hurting my buttocks and back. As I began playing a game of musical chairs to find the most comfortable seat, I could feel the stares of people around me.

I settled into position and began flipping through my book, reading from a few sections I had selected earlier as options to read.

Prior to heading to Santa Rosa for the reading, Mark had “helped” me pick out a section for the 5-minute limit. We sat on our bed as I read from various sections.

“I can’t decide. I don’t know what to read,” I had told him in frustration. “If I can’t decide on a part I like, why will people read it?”

“Just read the part I said,” he told me. “And they will read it. It’s a good book.”

They will read it. Hmm. Sales are slim, but he says, they will read it.

“I think I need to create a new bookmark, and this time, I’m going to write in bold letters, ‘NOBODY DIES IN THE END!’ I think people assume it’s all dark and depressing,” I told him.

Well, it would appear from my reading yesterday, and the amount of laughs my story got, people realized my dark subject matter could be humorous. The woman sitting next to me, a very nice lady, purchased my book.

“I take credit cards,” I told her and another woman who had been sitting next to her. We had been chatting before the readings began. I whipped out my little credit card reader, plugged it into my phone, and just like that, I sold a book! Woohoo!

Before people went up to the microphone, I noticed many of them were flipping through their works as they prepared, practiced in their head, or chose a final selection.

I, too, periodically glanced at my possible selections. “Just read the room,” my husband had told me earlier. “You’ll know what to read, and you’ll do fine.”

When I did “read the room,” I suppose I was a bit concerned they might get upset by my writing. Yes, I say ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ in the story; but it was okay. In fact, there was an old guy who had to use a walker who said several ‘fucks’ in his story.

So, all in all, it went pretty well, I didn’t stutter too much, people laughed several times, and the applause was strong at the end. It felt good.

On to the next…I have two events next weekend. Go to for my event schedule. Stop by and buy a book!!!


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