Ok, so tomorrow I'm reading at the AWP which fills me with a mix of excitement, honor at the invitation, and, oh okay, a little terror. One on one I'm gregarious and happy, but put me in a big crowd and my heart starts to stutter. I love giving readings when I'm lost in the story and then I can use all my 9th grade drama club skills. I love making eye contact with people who are listening. LOVE hearing laughter (bliss!) or intakes of breath (double bliss!) and of course I am a slave to applause because who is more insecure than I am on this planet? To my surprise, I'm told I'm a great reader, too, and unless that is just people being lovely to me, (and thank you, if it is), that's really wonderful to know. But before I get up there, I am a quivering mass of stage fright? What if no one shows up? What if 600 people show up?
I should be better by now. I've done zillions of readings, some wonderful, and my all time worse, on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon where NO ONE showed up. No one! The staff was very kind and three of them, wearing bookstore nametags sat in the audience for my reading (I went ahead and read because I was too mortified not to), and they told me that the day before a local celeb had had a reading and no one came, but they were probably just being nice.
But truely, writers are a solitary bunch, yes? I mean, I used to tell the people at the horrible video club corp. where I once worked a thousand years ago, when they asked why I never went to the company picnics or parties or after work drinkifests, that if I had wanted to be a social butterfly, I wouldn't have been a writer. But getting out there and charming the pants off the world is now part of the writer's job description, and so, get out there I do, with radio, TV, print, and yup, readings.
All this leads to my favorite reading story of all time. Michael Dorris, who usually got 500 people at his standing room only readings all the time, told me that once (actually it was after the three person reading I gave on that sunny Sunday) that he gave a reading and only 4 people were there. He loved to read so he figured, well why not? But halfway through the reading, cops arrived and to his shock, arrested three of the audience members. Turns out they were bank robbers on the lam and they figured no one would look for them in a reading!
So tomorrow, armed with my mantra (thanks JL), and my favorite black velvet dress (it's lucky) and my lucky earrings, I'm going to read.
Hey. Wish me luck. And if anyone has any great tips, well here I am....