Saturday, February 03, 2007

Writer's stage fright

So January is behind us and I don’t feel that I’ve accomplished very much, but I guess I have been plodding along.

With February comes a wonderful opportunity to participate in a “Romance Author Panel” at my local library on Tuesday, the 6th. Susan Barclay and I from No Law Against Love will be teaming with Eve Silver (His Dark Kiss) and Michelle Rowen (Angel with Attitude) to discuss the romance genre in general and trends we see happening. (I’ll be sure to mention the increased interest in Victoriana!)

Like I said, this is a wonderful opportunity--and I’m scared to death. Not only will I have to be a REAL WRITER (my fellow Victorians assure me my feelings of inadequacy are not unique) but I have good reason to be nervous. I’ve done something like this before.

In the summer of 2006, I had the opportunity to do a brief reading along with five other writers. As luck would have it, I was scheduled to go last. The first three writers had fabulous stories which they each told clearly and passionately. The fourth writer also had a great story, and one which was very emotional. By the time she finished reading, I was literally sobbing. I don’t mean wiping a bit of moisture from the corner of my eye, but gut-wrenching, gasping for breath, convulsive weeping.

And now, immediately, I must read. Read? Hell, I couldn’t even SEE. Every word ended with a sniffle--which really cuts into your reading pace, let me tell you. It was such a disaster that I finished one paragraph and announced it was enough. Mind you everyone else read their entire piece. The worst part of course, was that I was the ONLY one who was the least bit moved by my fellow writer’s words.

I learned my lesson though. In December, there was another reading opportunity. I received permission from the host to go first, although I did get the impression he thought I was pretty nervy. When I got to the podium I explained the reason behind my presumptuous behaviour and then read beautifully--although I still can’t get the hang of looking around at the audience without losing my place. And yes, I ruined it all by tripping over my coffee when I went back to my seat.

The last writer told an emotional, heart-breaking story. Several different people (strangers!) came up to me afterward to say how pleased they were I’d asked to go first. They all mentioned they saw me crying.

So, how will I embarrass myself this time?

5 comments:

Christine Koehler said...

Jenn,

I'm sorry, but I find that story about your emotional reading pretty funny. I'm reading your description of it and thinking that you were probably just nervous (I have horrible stage fright). This was a much better story! Haha, sorry, but it's just nice to know I'm not the only one who has problems with public readings, lol. Too bad you couldn't ask for a five minute break - you snapped a nail, broke a heel, or something.

I'm sure you'll do fine! But I'll keep my fingers crossed for you while at jury duty.

Susan Macatee said...

You are so brave, Jenn.

I have such a fear of getting up before people that I don't think I could ever do a reading.

I think it stems from a book report I had to read aloud in front of the class in high school. I was so nervous to begin with and the teacher (I hope he was just trying to ease my nervousness) made jokes during my reading, which only made things worse.

I never wanted to read anything in front of an audience again.

Jenn said...

It is pretty funny now, Christine. In fact, it was pretty funny at the time. I mean, it was SUCH an utter disaster that I didn't have anything to be nervous about anymore (all it could do was get better, and you don't need to be nervous for that). Anyway, I distinctly remember standing up there and thinking through my tears "this is pretty funny".

The good thing is, I already know future things of this nature will have something to top to make it as 'worst experience of my life'. It takes a bit of the pressure off, although I'm still nervous.

Susan, my FIRST reading experience (before the crying one) was much the same as yours. The host kept trying to 'save' me after half the audience walked out just as I began. Hmmm, I read last then, too.

Why do I keep on doing this? Do writers HAVE to market their books?

Jenn

Susan Macatee said...

LOL. I've decided that all my book marketing will be conducted via the internet.

Denise Eagan said...

Oh women, I so get where you're coming from. I did a blog on the marketing-fear thing on another site. I am terrified of the exposure, of doing something stupid, or even doing something really smart and having to repeat it!