Writers Group Pre-jitters

Submitted into Contest #50 in response to: Write a story about a person experiencing pre-performance jitters.... view prompt



               Writers Club Pre-jitters

Jane Ruth                                                                                 1191 words

 I take a deep breath and exhale slowly.

    Why did I agree to speak to my Wesley Writer’s Group?

     I am not a speaker! I could not even talk in front of my seventh- grade class for a book review. I called in sick that day.

    My anxiety is rising exponentially.

     I must have been out of my mind to say I would talk to a group of writers, for Pete’s sakes -Writers!

    How will those “peers” respond to my speech? Experience tells me they love to critique-they salivate to find grammar errors or sentence fragments, wrong word choices, or God forbid, spelling atrocities.

     I need a spot of tea. I want a nice hot, steaming cup with two sugars and milk.        

Relax! Relax!

     Let’s be logical.

1.    I know my subject. (But, it is controversial!)

2.    I can write very well for a novice. (But, mistakes will show, I am barely learning to edit)


3.  I think I can read my specific writing. (I think. Sometimes people in the group ask other readers to read their piece, instead of reading it themselves.)

4.    I am an adult, and I can do this. Buckle up; It is not the end of the world! (Yes, it is)

     Maybe I can tape the talk at home and play it before the group. That way, I won’t have to falter in my speech, lose my place on the page, or try to give the discourse without looking at my notes. I can avoid the embarrassment of making mistakes.

     I know! I can make a slide presentation, and I won’t have to engage much with direct eye contact with the group. I can keep my eyes glued on the screen. I should be able to read from a slide! But, what happens if someone asks me a question that is not on the presentation? I will have to look at them and flounder around trying to sound like I know the answer. They will know I am not prepared. My face is burning just thinking about it!

    There must be another way to do this speech!

     I guess I could look online and find a topic on presenting speeches to a group for first-time novices. Then it means I would have to get up in front of the class and expound my subject. Wouldn’t it be great if I could do that! Here I am, world, just as good as you are at giving information!

    It sounds pretty scary to me.

    I could try affirmations. Just be positive! I can do this- repeat 100 times.

    I am already praying for a miracle like a severe snowstorm and cancellations.

    I check online for suggestions.


    I need to practice my presentation. I can do that at home- no sweat there.

    I have to have a goal in place. I do, to make it through without passing out from sheer terror.

    I have no audience with whom to practice. My two and four -year- old children are not interested in controversial subjects. My husband is in London.

    I need to watch how I come across with body language. When I am petrified, how do I convey confidence? The sources say this aspect is key to the speech. Great!

    Oh, this is the fun part. I have to tell a story to relax my audience. I am not good at jokes. I can’t remember how to tell a joke and get the punchline correct. I will have to work on this one or forget it altogether. I choose option two.

    I love this suggestion. I am not supposed to stand transfixed in one place.-I am supposed to move around. Being klutzy, I could bang into chairs, or bump the water glass off the podium. After knocking them over, then I could walk around picking them up. I could also dance for them. Let me see how that would integrate with my controversial project.

    Maybe, I could start with an interesting fact or even ask a question relating to my talk. I would have to couch questions carefully; this topic is so controversial, the group could end up in a melee! I could do that! Then, we would have to adjourn and go home- no speech.


    OK, time to get serious and do something to help myself through this ordeal. I need to conquer this fear. Well, at least get it under control, since there is no way possible to escape the situation. It is not “nice” to call in sick.

    Let’s see:

1.    I can practice my speech repeatedly.

2.    I can volunteer my eighteen-year-old sister to listen to my talk and give feedback.

3.    I will warn her not to be too negative and to suppress any laughter. My ego, my ego! 

4.    I can attempt to word a question regarding the controversial subject gingerly to avoid outright pandemonium.

5.    I will only look at one or two people instead of the whole audience.

6.    I will carry an object in my sweaty hand and change it to the other hand, when I feel anxious.

7.    I will pray without ceasing.


Today is my presentation, and I am semi-confident. I can do this! I have all my props with me, and I have practiced ad nauseam. My sister was no help initially until she was able to control her laughter, and then she was constructive in feedback. I have great respect for her. I will look at only two people in the audience.

     My hands are both sweaty, my stomach hurts, and I am ready to hyperventilate or worse. My hands are also trembling-my papers do not want to stop shaking!

 The president of the Writer’s Group introduces me and my controversial topic. She is smiling and calm as a cucumber. The room is quiet as I reluctantly trek to the podium. I look out in the audience to see who I can stare at during my presentation.

I hesitate, then, what the heck, plunge right in! I boldly ask my safe question. I fear no one will answer.

     Oh, no, George is going to answer! Not George, he is the curmudgeon of the group! What a surprise -a well thought out answer.

     I look for my designated safe people, but one has moved to the back of the room.

    I see a few people smiling at me. I change my object of comfort, an ink pen, from one hand to the other.

    I am emphasizing why I feel so adamant about my subject when I feel a surge of adrenaline- this is my passion- I should be bold about how I feel! I am surprised by the calmness that overtakes me. I am not afraid to engage my audience. I am not afraid to speak my mind. I love the questions at the end of the presentation! I feel alive!

    I accidentally bump the water glass off the podium, it shatters onto the floor, and water is seeping everywhere.

    I laugh with unfettered joy!

July 16, 2020 20:06

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11:09 Jul 23, 2020

This was really funny and relatable. I liked the narrator's voice - it was exuberant and distinctive and she came across as very sympathetic.


Jane Ruth
19:38 Jul 23, 2020

Thank you! I enjoyed writing it- from experience! Thanks again.JR


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Vicky S
00:30 Jul 23, 2020

Hi Jane I liked the ending of your story and your description throughout. Good job!


Jane Ruth
19:39 Jul 23, 2020

Thank you so much! It was fun. JR


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