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.