1. Wake up at a fancy hotel and put on a nice dress before venturing out into your day. You have a better chance of surviving public humiliation if you are wearing actual clothes.
2. Feel really confident and happy when you sit down at a table with microphones and other panelists in front of a huge room of friends and strangers because what's the worst that can happen if you've made it this far?
3. When prompted, bumble and stumble your way through a pitch of the story of your life to a fellow panelist who happens to be the founding editor of a massively popular, well-renowned magazine.
4. Feel yourself flush beet red as he turns to you and says something that sounds just like this: "That was the worst pitch ever I've heard in my life and I would never accept it in a million years." Try to breathe as the air is sucked out of the room.
5. Laugh into the microphone and say something like: "And that's why I would never pitch the story of my life to your magazine."
6. Try not to die for the remaining 15 minutes of the panel even though it feels just like 15 lifetimes.
7. Collect your things and pretend your guts aren't exploding inside of your body. Say "FINE" when a student asks you how you are and then fall apart when she asks you how you REALLY are.
8. Spend the next hour sobbing on a bench in the back of the conference and smile through your tears and snot when the security guards ask if you're OK. Drag up every mean, cruel, divisive thing anyone has ever said to you and replay it like shame porn on repeat.
9. Write an imaginary response to Mr. Man in your head peppered with the words "fuck" and "you" and "asshole" and then pray for him and pray for yourself and pray for all people everywhere who aren't caught gently when they stumble and fall and land on their face.
10. Spend the next 3 days asking people you love to remind you of what you once knew. That you are worthwhile and lovable, that one comment in one minute on one stage in one microphone does not define or lessen or negate what you have to give and say and do.
11. Keep writing. Keep crying. Clamp your heart open. Write the fuck out of what you have to write. Transform your shame into the fuel you need to keep going.