If you’re here to watch my Ignite Phoenix 7 presentation, entitled “The Art of Bad Writing,” click HERE. If you’d like to read about the event, as its own entity, please continue.
I already covered the background of Ignite Phoenix 7 in an earlier entry on my blog. It was something that, as an Arizona newcomer, I just had to get involved in. Its tagline is “Lighting a fire under the Valley’s creative community.” Again, as a newcomer, Phoenix felt too large to have community, so when I heard “creative” and “community” in the same sentence, I thought BETTER GET INVOLVED. So I did. I submitted my presentation: “The Art of Bad Writing.” I submitted my bio: “Sara is an editor, proofreader, writer, and publicist. She’s a shiny, new transplant to AZ. She expects to see Clint Eastwood whenever her car hits tumbleweed. She does not own cowboy boots, and if you ask her to meet in CenPho, she thinks she’s going to some high-end clothing store.” And I got picked.
The event took place Friday, June 11, 2010, at the Phoenix Art Museum downtown. It came, it saw, it conquered. Now, here’s what I thought.
1) The Preparation. The Ignite Phoenix crew, led in this instance by Brian Carson, hosts a workshop for the presenters. This workshop is necessary and filled with gems. Some guiding points for me: Add a moment of silence before your big point. Be sure to have an audience call to action at the end. And remember to tell a story—what created your passion? I think these tips equate to all speaking engagements, and I’m very thankful that Ignite has this “training” program. Plus, I had the chance to meet a bunch of my fellow presenters. Some of Phoenix’s finest!
2) The Venue. Uh, can you say AWESOME? The Phoenix Art Museum is pretty cool on its own. (I mean they have a Frida Kahlo! Come ON!) But add a big, glowing “Ignite Phoenix” screen, six hundred people, and a full bar? The venue becomes a glorious, glamorous, big freakin’ deal! The courtyard outside was whimsical and calming, somehow, because how could I be nervous when everything was so pretty? The rows were a little crammed together inside, but hey, it’s about community, right? Plus, it was the most beautiful evening I’ve ever seen since moving here—clear sky, cool breeze, and crisp air. I may be a novice (this was my first Ignite Phoenix ever), but hey, I thought this epic setting was … uh, epic.
3) The Experience. Before going on stage, they made us sit backstage together. Nine people, nervous as hell, pacing and jumping up and down. It was not the chillest environment, yet I did feed on the energy of my other presenters. Their nerves got my nerves going, which led to some serious fight or flight. And I didn’t “flight,” damn it—I fought. My theater minor from college woke up after years of disuse. I climbed onto that stage in four-inch platform heels and did it. The five minutes went by in a blur. I remember laughter. I remember feeling good up there. I remember getting off stage. And then, there was the vomit. No, I didn’t really toss my cookies, but I felt like I was going to. I hit an adrenaline crash, and for the rest of the night, I felt vaguely as if I might pass out. Thankfully, Jake was there to feed me beer and drive me home. The conclusion: if you’re scared of public speaking, you’ll be fine at Ignite Phoenix, because everyone is utterly terrified together. The audience will love you. You’ll feel high on life when it’s over, so if you’re considering a submission to Ignite Phoenix 8, just head to the website and do it!
4) The After-Effects. After the big show, all the presenter folk had to stand at little tables, where people could come and meet us. I loved this, and it will only get better. This was the first time the Ignite Phoenix crew had this idea, so I don’t think the Ignite “regulars” took full advantage. I hope they keep this up, because it was a nice way to meet people and network. When I got home that night, I had about a hundred new Twitter followers. Over the next week, my blog blew up. Not to mention all the cool people I get to have coffee with this week. (Can you say Stephanie Horn and Sue Ellen Allen?)
5) But Seriously … The After-Effects. “Lighting a fire under the Valley’s creative community.” Consider me lit. Err, that came out wrong. I mean, consider me inspired. As I mentioned, I met some super cool people, and they had important things to say. Sue Ellen Allen talked about inspiring women behind bars with art and education. Stephanie Horn taught me how to talk to strangers. Patrick Knauer told me I can win the Nobel Peace Prize, even via my day-to-day writing and relationships. Alex Berger made me want to go back to my darling France, IMMEDIATELY. And I even got to learn about the tragedy of an unfair video game, thanks to the hilarious Adam Burch. But there was so much more! Every presentation had its own charm; every presenter, his or her own passion and character. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to do this. I’m so thankful to have shared a stage with all my fellow presenters, as well as the Ignite Phoenix team. I’m thankful to be here in Phoenix, at this time, in this space. I’m still working on “my purpose” here in the desert, but hey, I think Ignite Phoenix may have gotten me a little closer to my own personal inspiration.
Thanks to the Ignite Phoenix team! Thanks to my fellow presenters! Thanks to the Valley of the Sun. I may be falling for you, in the way that you fall for that awkward kid with the cracking voice in junior high. One more time, for the cheap seats, here’s the link to my YouTube video, Sara Dobie presents “The Art of Bad Writing:” http://www.youtube.com/IgnitePhoenix#p/u/13/clKOsf4UxNo. (And don’t be scared. Despite what you may think, I really am a nice person.)