Other than reading to my children, I have zero practice reading aloud and certainly not in public. My usual audience of two requests me to read Harry Potter in a British accent, replete with different voices for characters and sound effects, et cetera. (No claim to do any of it very well, but they enjoy it!) Also, I am usually in my pajamas and we're comfortably cuddled up on a bed, dim lighting and so on. Suffice it to say, I feel no judgement when I trip over a word.
Last weekend, a kind, generous friend of mine threw a party for me and Nation of Enemies. All the faces were familiar and the feeling in the room was a combination of warmth, fun and support. My nerves dissipated and after awhile I forgot that I was meant to be the center of attention. We talked, ate, drank, and laughed. Until the time came for me to give my very first reading.
Seated at the center of the room, I thanked everyone for coming and asked in advance for their forgiveness, should I stumble. Then I took a deep breath and began to read. Before long, it was over. A discussion ensued, one question organically leading to the next. Luckily, unlike on tests in school, I knew all the answers. The pressure was off. They assured me I did just fine. And I breathed once again. First reading: check! Then came dessert and everything was right with the world.
In hindsight, I realize I could have given the British Immigration Officials accents. Maybe next time.