I’ll be fine

Remember I mentioned the First Annual English Conference hosted by my school, University of Maine at Augusta?

Well it seems I did submit a paper for consideration after all. And apparently it’s been accepted. And yes, members of my class have formed a Brontë Sisters panel, so we can read and discuss our papers…in front of people…and answer their questions.

A few days ago I saw a mock-up of the schedule for the conference. There it is – Colleen Conlan, The Passions of the Two Mrs. Rochesters. It’s with an equal measure of pride and dread that I see my name and paper listed…first.

Yes, that’s right. I’ll be giving the first paper during the first panel of the very First Annual UMA Undergraduate English Conference.

So now I’m getting nervous. Last night I even had a version of that dream where you’re naked in front of people and can’t do anything about it. So yeah, I’m a little worked up. (I’ll be fine)

See, I’m not keen on public speaking. I’m a wicked blusher, even at 48, and my voice sometimes gets a little trembly. But I’m trying to convince myself that this isn’t really public speaking, it’s just public reading. I like to read, right? (I’ll be fine)

And I’m reminding myself that it’s good – actually quite good – to go first. Then there’s less of that horrid anticipation, only half-listening to the current speaker because I’m obsessed with the fact that that it’s my turn after the guy after this woman. This way, I’ll be able to get my paper out of the way, and then relax and really enjoy the rest of the conference (I’ll be fine)

I’m quite excited about the keynote speaker, Alison Bechdel. Last week I bought and devoured her graphic memoir, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. As implied by the title, it’s sad and it’s funny, and it’s so smart. I’m always a sucker for the kind of introspective and observant little girl that Bechdel was and brings to the page. As a way of appeasing my anxiety, I’m trying to think that I’m sort of a warm-up act for the keynote. Some day I can tell my grandchildren, “Yes, my dears, it’s true! I once opened for Alison Bechdel!” (I’ll be fine)

Seriously, though, I’m also excited about our panel and about my part in it. I’m eager to hear my Brontë co-panelists’ papers. I also recognize names of classmates from prior online classes among the other panelists, so it will be good to see and hear them in person. In reality, my paper is one small contribution to what will probably be a pretty cool day. Giving papers…sitting on panels…hearing the keynote speaker: it all sounds so collegiate, and such a great way to end my experience at UMA.

I might blush, I might even quaver, but I’m not likely to faint, and I’m certain I won’t die. I’ll be fine.



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9 Responses to I’ll be fine

  1. Laura Moe says:

    I LOVE that you are getting your degree three credits at a time. It took me fourteen years to get by BA. Grad school was much faster, and easier to manage. (I now have more degrees than a thermometer.) Presenmting first means you get to enjoy the rest of the conference. Like ripping off a bandaid. Best of luck to you. You wil be fine. You are a bright spot, and using your self-deprecating humour will draw the audience in.

    By the way, you are entered in my poetry giveaway contest. :)

    • Thanks for checking out my blog, and thank you for you poetry giveaway! I’m blown away at how many poets are giving away books to celebrate poetry month. So generous, and so fun. As it turns out, my presentation went fine, though I’m glad to have it behind me. Thank you for your nice comments.

  2. Pingback: Brontë and Bechdel and Books, OH MY | Going the Distance…Three Credits at a Time

  3. Heather says:

    Congrats Colleen! You will do fine (as you know!) and I can’t wait to hear all about it! What a great accomplishment :)

  4. Wow! I haven’t done that before! And just think, I know the person being on the panel and speaking about her paper! That takes me up a notch too, I think. :-)

    I think your doing an ebook or regular novel would be fabulous. On the same subject, Jane Eyre is a great book that I really like a lot. I will be going to the (new) movie as soon as it comes out.

    Oh – and let us know how it was. We want details, details, details!!

    • Thank you Betsyanne! I don’t know about that notch, though;-) You’re right about Jane Eyre. Believe it or not, this is the first time I read it. I think some of my younger classmates have read that (and Wuthering Heights, too) at least once before. We’re going to see the movie next week, as a class. Can’t wait!

  5. Sarah Chauncey says:

    Brava! Colleen. I thoroughly enjoy your posts. You have a beautiful writer’s voice — and I expect to see one of your books in print before too long. I hope you’ll post the paper you will be sharing at the conference.
    Best, Sarah

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