Monday, 1 August 2011

Writer - or performer? Aaaargh!

An evening or so ago I sat amongst fellow writers at a monthly meeting. Some, like me, prefer the dark side. Others enjoy travel or script-writing. We have poets and non-fiction journalists, self-published authors and those who write purely for their own pleasure.

All is well. All is calm. Until I am 'encouraged' to read my work out loud. Suddenly (you can hear my panic; 'suddenly' is one of those words I've always been taught to avoid, like 'nice' and 'was') my heart palpitated. My normally-still hands began to shake. My mouth - OK, OK I'd had a glass of wine - laboured grey as cardboard; any juices lingering on my tongue were sucked dry. Even my vision became blurred.

What the f***?

Now, I have always had an inherent fear of speaking in public - oh yes. Doesn't matter how much I know my subject, or how comfortable I am with an audience... it means nothing.

I'm very aware that in conversation - with people I know and even those I don't I can ramble for England and probably sound lunatic. So for that I apologise - but - is it a surprise that this is why I write? This is my communication method of choice; this is where I can articulate rather than blab and burble. If I do espouse the thoughts that tease my head then people usually politely turn away  - and that's how I discover I am talking crap. Makes you kind of paranoid, but then... what the hell.

So. My question for you - writers or not - is how do you cope with speaking in public? I am not interested in method - I know all about pitch and pause - I want to know how you overcome self-confidence issues. How, when you read your fiction or verse out loud in the comfort of your own home, and it sounds so fab do you stop the subsequent monotone delivery that bears no resemblance to your private performance?

If you are a serious writer, at some stage you will be asked, or will need to promote your work by doing readings at book stores, libraries, public spaces and even theatres. Have a heart, think about it now...

Answers on a postcard, or below - please:


Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.