Happy Valentine's Day!
That is not what this post is about, but it is sort of about love.
So I gave my first public reading on Wednesday and learned a couple of things about how to do it even better next time. First of all, please note there is a difference between wanting to improve yourself and thinking that you suck. I can still have good self-esteem and believe I need improvement as a person. So here are some ways to show yourself a little love and give good presentations of your own work:
LOVE YOUR WORK
If you are passionate about your work, let it show. Don't let your audience see you as self-conscious or doubtful about what you're reading. You've written something and you should be proud of that fact alone. Let your love and enthusiasm show.
LOVE YOUR AUDIENCE
They came to see you! Be sure to thank them for coming and thank your hosts for having you. Speak from a place of gratitude and let everyone know how awesome of an opportunity it is for you.
LOVE YOURSELF (ENOUGH TO NOT BE NERVOUS)
Though I think entirely obliterating your nervousness is probably impossible, love yourself as a writer enough to keep that panic under control. I didn't do so well with that this time. I was shaking when I took the mic. I fumbled in a couple of places. And all of this happened because I expected the old ladies in the fifth row to instantly reject my bondage jokes (absolutely certain they did).
But regardless of the audience's reactions, you should have enough self-love to not worry so much about possible rejection. You are still OK and awesome enough that rejection from someone isn't going to destroy you (and I think the fear of this possibility is what fuels nervousness). I was so nervous that my beloved friend had to feed me lines for "what are you working on now?" Because I was too tore up to remember the anthology I'm editing with author Angela Roquet, or the fact we are donating all the proceeds to the Animal Welfare Institute.
Also, a couple of other observations that had little to nothing to do with love:
I'm a very animated reader and I didn't account for the idea I might be holding a microphone in my reading (which slowed me down). So think ahead about the space and venue and try to account for that.
Be prepared to answer questions. Even though I knew there was a panel, I didn't prepare for it. Nor did I prepare for the questions that were asked when I was signing. This was only a small problem, but I would have been able to give better answers if I'd thought ahead about what people might ask:
How did you get here?
What was the inspiration for this book and these characters?
What are you working on next?
...and so on.
Thankfully, I'd done enough online interviews that at least I'd considered these things and could throw together an answer. But next time, I'll definitely review beforehand.
Anyway, thank you again for everyone who came out and saw me read! It was a really fun night and I loved meeting all of you. I hope to meet even more fans at the RT booklovers convention in May.
Any other tips you guys have for presenting your own work?
**I've got a post coming Monday with pics from the reading. So check back! :)