I’ve been a busy boy lately. In the last few weeks I’ve been to talk at my local college about writing, another workshop with a group of young writers, had a radio spot and I’m headed toward another event next weekend.
This all sounds awesome. Except for that I have zero confidence in public appearances and I’m absolutely terrible at talking to large groups of people. Small groups? No problem. Get me stood in front of a class or give me the need to be articulate in the slightest and I’m completely lost. That’s why I write things down!
^ That’s me looking a Goon at the college talk.
But lately the deep end of the pool has risen up to claim me. It started with a talk at Doncaster College as part of the Turn The Page festival run by local libraries. It seemed like a great idea. Go talk to aspiring authors, maybe sign some books, and hopefully not have a heart attack in the process. But it was oh-so-much harder than that. The college had the lovely idea of setting up the room in which I would be talking in a university lecture-style with me at a pulpit and host of faces staring down at me. I became acutely aware of how Loosestrife felt on page 3 of Greaveburn with all those students looking down on him (Which gave me a giggle as life started to imitate art). What made this particularly interesting and a real learning experience, was because most of the atendees didn’t have English as their first language, and as I talked I became acutely aware that either my accent or vocabulary wasn’t getting through. And so I had to change tack half way through and start re-planning on the fly. Yikes.
It was an absolute blast. I got a little adrenalin rush like jumping out of a plane without the parachute. But I survived it! Hell yes, I did. And I reckon I nailed it…or maybe not…
Anyway, the next event, on the very same day in fact, was a radio interview where I had to review someone else’s book as well. That part was kind of fun apart from when the interviewer started asking me historical questions about when the first dirigible was used and what the difference between an airship and a dirigible was. Just for the record, I am neither historian or engineer. But I am the King of Blag. And so I winged it. And I think I didn’t sound too much of a complete idiot so I’m chalking that one up as a win, too.
Don’t argue, just let me have it, ok? ;D
With that done, next came my talk with a local Young Writer’s group this week. As my girlfriend (scratch that, fiance, since I got engaged recently and completely forgot to blog about it. Naughty Craig) is an English teacher, I figured I would be prepared for talking to young adults (read: teenagers) by her stories and advice. Oh, how wrong can you be?
I had lots of fun and we talked about all manner of geeky things, but there was absolutely no order to the proceedings at all 😀
Dear Lord, I’m not ready for children yet.
But they were brilliant, enthusiastic, and extremely insightful and clever. Much more than I was, to be honest. But I think I made them laugh a few times, which was good, and they seemed to really grab onto the idea of Greaveburn being inspired by a funky “cheese dream” which ended up being the catchphrase of the whole evening. So what did I do wrong? Plenty. Afterward I was acutely aware that some of the particularly astute members of the group were very quiet and overpowered by some who were louder and perhaps had a lot less insight. And I did nothing to help those poor quiet kids. To them, if they’re reading this, I apologise profusely. I’m still learning. And I hope you’ll contact me so I can maybe help you on a one-to-one basis as you deserve.
Anyways, what I’m getting at is that public appearances are full of pitfalls for authors. No matter the preparation, something will come up that you can’t account for. Expect the unexpected. And if all else fails, just relax and have fun. I certainly did, and maybe next time I’ll even be better at it. Who knows?
But if nothing else, I hope this blog post helps you to realise that someone else is always worse at public appearances at you. And that person will always be me.
Thanks for reading!