First Ever Reading Survived!!!

Hahahahhaha — I look SO intense!

Tonight I had my first ever public reading of my novel at the Cornelia Street Cafe. I read as part of the Writers Room Member Reading series, which takes place there every third Tuesday of the month from September through June.

Hehe, so much fun. I was so nervous, but once I got started, I was fine… at least that’s what my wonderful friend, Evangelina, told me 🙂

Here I am with Evangelina, my good old trustworthy friend from my writing class days. She’s known (main character) Sophie and all of her nutty problems since her inception so it was PERFECT to have her in the audience! I would have invited more people, but I was really nervous going into it and didn’t know how well I’d do, so I wanted to minimize the number of people to see me screw up!

But as it turned out, it went fine, and now of course I can’t wait to do it again. When I do, I promise to invite everyone I know in the NYC area 🙂

Here’s playwright and Writer’s Room Reading Series host, the hilarious Stan Richardson, about to introduce me.

Hehehe, I’m such a goof. I actually wrote out my intro to my piece that I was reading. I always do such silly things — whenever I give an oral argument in court, I absolutely MUST write at the top of my outline the words, “May it please the court. I am Tonya Plank and I represent (client’s name)” … my friends like to make fun of me — because what, am I going to forget my name?? — but I’m always so nervous approaching a podium, I just must have those words on my paper in order for me to get myself actually talking.

All in all it went really well. Like I said, I was very nervous and shaky-voiced at the beginning — which I felt and Evangelina confirmed — but after I got into it, it got much better. After I read, Stan said my reading made him think and there were a lot of things that he really wanted to talk about but there was no time — how sweet! And then later, he made a couple of jokes about Freud and everything in this post-Freudian universe being sexual, which was a riff on my first couple of lines 🙂

Then, after all readings were over, a writer, Jim Story, approached me and told me he thought I did well and my work sounded interesting but that I read way too fast and needed to slow down. Evangelina agreed, but said I only read how I talk (which is way too fast!). She also said that I need to learn proper comic timing — when I have a funny line, I need to PAUSE afterward to give the audience time to get it and respond. I know, I know, I know, but eeek, I just feel so weird doing that; I feel like I am begging for laughs, basically telling the audience I want them to think this is funny and to laugh by pausing in certain places — no??? I guess maybe just reading slower in general would do the trick…

Hehehe, also Stan asks everyone a question or two when introducing them. For mine, he asked me what I liked best about my website. I was thinking he was going to ask something like when did you join the Writers Room and / or why, what publishing house would you like to publish your book (questions he’s asked others), but instead I got this one and I couldn’t think quickly. I said the first thing that came to mind which was the graphic! I do really like the graphic designer my web builder, Gregory Tomlinson, hired, and those couple of little outlines he did of me and Pasha dancing in my first showcase, one on the main blog, and one on the home page. And then I started vomiting on (when I’m nervous I just start blabbing incessantly; it’s really just BAD), about how I used to take ballroom and, oh can you believe the guy in my graphic, my former dance teacher, is now on “So You Think You Can Dance” and woo-hoo a famous person on my blog, who knew Pasha would make it so big, and how awesome, and blah blah blah… have no idea what else I said; it’s just a blur now! Well, Stan had no idea what I was talking about — he’s like, So You Think You Can Dance, is that American!? I’m such a goof, I have to remember not everyone is as obsessed with dance as I am … And, hello, what kind of writer says their favorite thing about their website is the graphic!!!!!!!

Anyway, it was all so much fun and such a great experience and I so want to do it again. I could totally get used to this writer life 🙂 Thanks to Stan for being his humorous self and easing my nerves, along with my two co-readers tonight Dan Klein and Lauren Yaffe, and Evangelina, friend extraordinaire for her never-ending support :), and to Cornelia Street Cafe and the Writers Room (the most awesome of all urban writers colonies!) — as well as the Jerome Foundation, NYC Department of Culture, and National Endowment of the Arts for underwriting the WR Reading Series — all for giving new writers such a wonderful opportunity to be heard and to engage in the writing life in this way. Happy night!

Front of Cornelia Street Cafe, where Evangelina and I had dinner and caught up with each other after the reading. And, across the street, we noticed this very happening restaurant, Petra or something like that? Hmmm, will have to check it out someday…


  1. congratulations!! you must tell me next time so i can come! talented lady …

  2. I wish I’d known about it sooner, it sounds great. I’ve been struggling with my novel (entitled SINCE THE DAY) for ten years (!)….it’s good to know that you can eventually actually finish!!!

  3. Oh my gosh, you are so brave! I’m glad it went well!

  4. wow, that’s awesome! public speaking is so difficult…especially when you are reading from something u feel very passionate about, the vulnerability! bravo~

  5. Thanks so much, you guys! Yes, Philip, you can finish, you just have to set deadlines for yourself and KEEP THEM! It helps to take a writing class or workshop because then you have the deadlines set for you.

  6. Yay! Im glad it went well. Let me know next time you are reading!!

    Also–on ABT note…If you weren’t at today’s matinee, GO TOMORROW NIGHT!!
    Hallberg and Murphy were fantastic. I mean really, utterly gorgous. I know ppl say she isnt a good actress, but I believed them COMPLETELY. They looked so utterly, intoxicatingly, deliriously in love. If it gives you a clue how much I liked it, I’d go back tomorrow if I wasnt working!!

  7. Thanks, Delirium! Am going to tell more people next time; I was just so nervous this time!

    Oh no, I can’t go tomorrow night! I know, I just read Joan Acocella’s New Yorker review of R+J and Sleeping Beauty (why it’s just now being published in the current issue I can’t understand; R+J feels like aeons ago…) and she said that Gillian wasn’t a good actress — actually she said she wasn’t an actress at all (but she did recognize her technical expertise). I totally disagree with the acting thing and adored her in SB. I am going to be seeing her and David in Cinderella though!

  8. i have a theory about her (gillian) that I’ve said either here or elsewhwere.

    She needs a real CHARACTER to bring her to life. Aurora? I didnt see her but there isnt much TO Aurora (in my opinion). Give her something comedic (Mistress in Manon? Hilarious!!) and she excels. Ive mostly seen her be great in such comedic things–manon (well IT isnt comedic, but her role is) and Fille Mal Gardee, so i didnt know how she’d be as Juliet, but i assumed at least interesting. And instead she was amazing

    I saw them in cinderella last year. I thought they were great, and I liked it more than most cinderellas, but I still dont feel i need to see it again this year. I may change my mind.

    i was going to go see Jewels this sunday but its sold out (at least the cheap tix, which is all i can afford!)

  9. Congratulations! That is very, very cool.

  10. Oh wow — thanks, Rob! Well, it’s a start, right… Maybe someday I’ll be like you 🙂 Thanks for visiting my blog!

  11. Oh, I’ve been reading you since December when you said nice things about my panel appearance. I’m the biggest narcissist in the world. Say something swell about me and I’m yours for life…

  12. Aw, haha! I really did enjoy that panel discussion — and I can’t wait to read your book. If you give a reading in NY, I’m definitely there!

Comments are closed