Mystery...Romance...Sci Fi...Humor... The joy of writing fiction - meeting brand new people in places that don't yet exist.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What? In Public?!?

I belong to a local writers group. Our monthly meetings include discussion, some sort of writing exercize, and a critique sssion for those who brought something to share.  Usually the critquing is done by silent read (we each bring enough copies to hand out)  followed by group discussion; but on those occasions when we read aloud, there is still the comfort of reading to a closed group of fellow writers.

This Wednesday we are doing what the group calls our Beatnik Cafe.  We are moving our meeting to the coffee shop of a large local bookstore where we'll take turns perching on a tall stool and reading our work to whoever happens to be there.  Shoppers.  Visitors. Strangers!!!

Like most of us, I enjoy a little instant gratification.  I've be known to surreptitiously watch someone read my work, waiting to see if they'll chuckle over that funny line in paragraph two or mist up a little over that heart-wrenching ending.  But this is a different.  This is combining instant feedback - good and bad - with that most terrifying of experiences...public speaking. 

I've written my piece.  Holiday themed as our group leader requested, reading time approximately seven minutes.  I tried it out on various family members over the holiday and they all gave it a thumbs up.  But, of course, they're all...well, family.   What will it be like in a public forum?  Busy shoppers who may stop to listen but who will have no problem walking away if I can't hold their interest for seven minutes.  What if they laugh when I'm not trying to be funny or don't laugh when I am?

This is seriously scary stuff.

Does anyone have a suggestion or word of encouragement for me?  Writers - how do you handle reading your work in public?  Readers - what are your likes and dislikes when listerning to an author read?  Oh, and please don't offer the suggestion about picturing the audience in their underware.  I tried that once and got so carried away visulizing that hot hunk in the first row that I...well, that's another story.

Countdown to retirement and writing full time: 10 work days to go.

I'm currently enjoying: Endangered Species by Nevada Barr

Groaner of the Day: What do you call a short clairvoyant person on the run from the law?
A small medium at large.


Maria Zannini said...

How do you handle meetings at work? It's basically the same thing.

Trust in your work and read the story as if you were reading it to a friend or family.

Don't look at it as being judged, but rather as performance art. Your part is to entertain.

PS Make sure you have some water or lozenges with you. My voice starts to crack when I get too dry.

Dru said...

I think you'll do okay. It's always good to hear a writer read their work and talk about what went into their thoughts.

Loved the groaner.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Maria - Technical/managerial stuff is easy. I think this will feel more like when my grandson was doing a solo at his school band concert. I was a nervous wreck for him. (He wasn't nervous at all.)

Thanks for the reminder on the water.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Dru - We'll be limited to just the reading, no time for anything else. Which might be part of why I'm nervous. Harder to jump in cold with an unknown audience. But then, what's the worst that can happen. I don't think they'll be allowed to throw things.

You're my number one groaner fan. Bless you.

Kimber Leszczuk. said...

I have heard your story and it is perfect!! You will do just fine.

Personally I love public speaking and sharing my stories. I love to make people laugh and I love the feedback, even when it is negative. I enjoy being the center of attention so I don't know what advice to give others except go up there and trust that they will like you and if not - oh well their loss.

IF it helps - I give you permission to just pretend that you are me! (You know you want to - except for that whole being married to your son thing might ick you out a little but...) - ha just kidding - YOU ARE WONDERFUL, and your story is really good too -have confidence and you will do just fine. Matt is bringing the kids to show their love and support for us so know at least part of the audience is going to love you no matter what! :)

Have fun with it!

Mason Canyon said...

My only advice would be to pretend you're by yourself reading it aloud and just go with it. You'll do wonderful. Wish I was close by, I'd love to come listen and cheer you on. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Thoughts in Progress

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm impressed! I'm a bit of a coward - haven't shared my writing with anyone I know in the real world yet. Good luck!! :)

Linda Leszczuk said...

Kim - Oh Lord, Matt and the kids? I'm doomed. {grin}

Linda Leszczuk said...

Mason - I wish you were closer, too. I'll take all the moral support I can get. Hmmm, maybe I should have someone tape it and post it on my Friday blog. Or maybe not.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Jemi - Do you mean you haven't shared by reading aloud or haven't shared at all? I'm pretty comfortable sharing my work with test readers and people in my writing group.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

It sounds like you’re prepared to me, so I bet you do a great job.

I think many authors (including me) tend to read too fast making it hard to follow the story.

Good luck.

Liz Fichera said...

I'm not sure it ever gets easier reading it public or waiting for a complete stranger to read your work. It's like diving into the deep end of a dark lake: Scary, at first, but then once your head hits the cold water and you plunge below, you get that exhilarating adrenaline rush.

I think what your group is doing is super cool. I will have to suggest it to my writing group. Love the idea!

MengleOh67 said...

I'm probably not the one to ask about this since the whole idea scares me silly LOL but I wanted to wish you the best of luck. I haven't heard this story yet, but your work is always excellent and I'm sure this will be no exception to that.

I'm hoping to make it to the cafe, but it will probably be later since it looks like it will be me taking my youngest to his wrestling practice tomorrow night.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Jane - I know I tend to read faster if I'm nervous. Thanks for the reminder on that. I'll be careful with my pacing.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Liz - At least I won't be doing that mental pacing thing, waiting for someone else to finish reading my work. Let me know if your writing group likes the idea.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Mary Beth - I've got the uneasy feeling Gery has me going first. At least that's where I am on the list he sent out. But if you miss my read, I'll be glad to give you a copy later.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post. Really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

Peggy Hanna said...

So I'm now responding to my first blog. Thanks, Linda, for explaining it to me. You did great last night at the Beatnik Cafe. I was surprised to read in your blog that you were that concerned about reading. As a member of the audience, I'm glad you gave up on the idea of seeing us all naked.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Anon - Thanks. I'd love to return the favor if you're a blogger.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Peggy - Hey, you found your way!
I enjoyed meeting you Wednesday night.

Actually, I don't have to picture the audience at all. When I'm wearing my reading classes, everything more than a foot away is just a blur.