So That Actually Happened…

I’d say good Monday morning, but is there really such a thing? I suppose if one won the lottery on a Sunday night, or maybe if, say, their football team won the Super Bowl last night (so close, but the Ravens are decidedly not the Redskins and never will be), then they might be inclined to call it a good Monday morning, but in general…

Where was I? Oh, yes. Something actually happened this weekend. Well, several somethings, really, but the most important had nothing to do with rediscovering my love for tea or picking up a few interesting items at thrift stores.

You see, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, I gave my first public reading on Saturday morning.

And I loved it.

Back things up just a little bit; I joined the Montgomery Writers Association back in September and have been attending meetings on-and-off ever since. I’ve participated in those events to which I was privy, such as the festival of lights sale in December, and have tried to make myself an active member of the community. I saw lots of folks giving readings of their own work and didn’t know exactly how the process worked – did the organizers hand pick people, or what?

Eventually I just decided to do the thing that has opened so many doors to this point: I simply asked, and learned that they accepted volunteers. Hey, I could use the experience and I enjoy public speaking (I’m a sicko, sue me), so why not? I offered my services and they accepted, tentatively slating me for April, something that I discussed not too long ago on this very site.

Well, a few weeks ago some lack of volunteers led to some schedule shuffling and, long story short, the chapter organizers asked me to speak in February rather than April. It would mean something of a mental shift, but it’s very rare for me to turn down such an opportunity, especially if it’s asked of me by another, so I grabbed hold of it and decided I wouldn’t let go.

Practice, practice, practice, and I was ready for Saturday. Flash forward to then.

A good friend of mine, Cathy Wiley, was the “official” speaker, and she got something like an hour to speak on how she had sold 35,000 books. I hadn’t counted on actually being part of her presentation (she flashed Room 3 up as an example of a good cover), but I joined in and helped her explain some of the scarier aspects of online marketing to the group. She gave an engaging presentation and I think we worked well as a team together. It may be a presentation that we give together in the future, hard to say for certain, but I think it could work.

We took a break, and I got myself set up and geared up to read. I mixed, I mingled, and whatnot. Got to talk to some interesting folks and hear some interesting ideas for stories. I’m going to keep my eye out for a few of them – I think they have great potential.

After the break I received a great introduction from the Chapter President, Alix Moore, and dove right in.

I read, of course, from Room 3, and presented the first scene where we see the effects of Room 3 and the hallucinogenic drugs. My nerves were on edge as I began, and my practiced presentation of the characters’ voices became a bit inconsistent, so I adjusted some of the attribution on the fly. By the time I hit the halfway point, however, things started to pick up, and I could tell that I had gotten the group’s attention.  I find that confidence builds on confidence, so the longer I went without a major flub, the better I felt, and so the better the reading became. By the end I had built up a pretty good head of steam and felt ready to read as long as I possibly could.

Of course, in the end, I had to stop, as another writer, Thomas Foote, followed me. I felt good, though. The whole thing felt right, in a way that other public speaking hasn’t so far. I suspect it has to do with reading my own fiction and working on the fly rather than sticking to a script. Not sure, but it felt a lot better to stick in the moment rather than worrying about missing some planned beat here or there. That’s where you get the real give-and-take with your audience, in the unplanned.

Afterwards, I sold a copy or two, handed out some more, and really got to talk about my book with a few people. To me, that was worth whatever money I might have otherwise made. I’m not going to lie and say I wouldn’t like to get paid for my efforts, but right now this is truly a labor of love, and I will take any opportunity that I can get to share this work, even for free. Provided, of course, that I’m not being exploited. So far, so good.

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7 Comments

  1. Hey Jonathan,
    Congrats on a great reading.
    My personal take on becoming a successful author–it takes thousands of moments of working through fear.
    Little fear, big fear, and sometimes confusion and frustration to boot.
    We need to remember to celebrate each little step, as you did here.
    Good on ya’, mate!

    • What a great perspective on things! I need to keep that in mind as something of a personal mantra. Thanks, Alix. Definitely need to share that wisdom with others 🙂

  2. You did an amazing job and I’m very proud of you!

  3. You were doing *voices*?! Yeah, no. Not for me. But good for you! Sounds like a great opportunity!

    • Well, nothing super-dramatic; that would be the guy who followed me, he was flitting around and…erm…yeah. I just captured the characters’ cadence and tone as I heard them in my head (specifically the young girl). And thanks!

  4. Acting has always been a second passion of mine, so I love doing readings. Open mics are great practice for this (without the necessary promotional stress). When I teach novels, I generally read them to the class (and do voices as well. Makes it more entertaining for the audience, I believe, even if, in my case, they’re just freshmen in high school).

    Glad it was a good experience. Onward and upward!

    Paul

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