My voice sounded calm, confident, as if I’d done this a hundred times before. For a moment, I didn’t recognize my own voice. Where was the stutterer? Why weren’t my legs shaking? It was as if I expected the speaker in myself to disappear and leave me helpless in front of the audience. Their eyes were focused on me. Unless there was something wrong with my eyes, no one appeared disappointed. They seemed to enjoy hearing me speak. Why wasn’t I anxious? There wasn’t time to think about such questions. I was in the middle of a sentence, and the audience was waiting for the rest of it. Or maybe I was finished with the last sentence, and this was a pause between sentences. Pauses can make me anxious. They’re essential for a writer. How can I ever know for sure what I’ll say or write next? Creativity happens in pauses. What did I just finish saying aloud? Where was the thought that would become the heart of the sentence about to be born? It would come. It always did. My mind wouldn’t fail me. It never had. I thought it had. Speech problems had made me afraid of pauses. What if no more words came? Maybe the audience really was waiting now. More words were on their way. I could feel it. My mouth and my mind were working together.