Okay okay okay, get mad, please, I am so sorry I haven't posted in so long. I have been quite busy with my current writing project, and I have had a lot of strange events in the past few days. The film festival was in town as some of you may know and I have a few friends in the television industry who dragged me out to some parties . . . sounds glamorous but when you don't know anyone there it is more like otherworldly.
Anyway, excuses excuses.
Now to the act of posting!
What I wanted to write about today was something different about the publishing industry, but definitely something I have learned over the last year or so and I wanted to share. As I am wont to do.
When you are an author you start getting opportunities that you never had before. Suddenly you are inundated with invites to book launches (which for the most part I suggest you accept because they are usually a lot of fun), you are interviewed and reviewed (seriously amazing and terrifying at the same time), and also . . . you may be asked to do panels at conferences, give readings, or something of that nature.
It is the latter request I wanted to discuss today.
I have already written a four part series on tips for reading aloud (you can find it in my sidebar), so that isn't really what I want my focus to be on. What I wanted to talk about with you lovely folks is humility.
Or rather that "why on earth are they asking me to do this and I really shouldn't be here and I feel really stupid and any second now they are all going to realise that I am a fraud and I should really just go home" feeling.
Humility is always a good thing. But paralysing insecurity . . . not so much.
So here's the important lesson for today. When you are asked to give a presentation, or sit on a panel, or do a reading, you have been asked because the person doing the asking wanted you there. You may not understand why, you may think you were a last minute replacement, but the fact is someone wanted you up in front of people sharing your words of wisdom.
We may think we have no words of wisdom. Or we may think we have a few, but that that might come across as arrogant. We may think nothing but just feel absolute terror. So here is my recommendation: Instead of thinking of how woefully inadequate you are, or how nervous you are or whatever, think of that person that asked you to present. Think of your audience that put in the effort to come and see you. And think how insulting it would be to them if you told them, "Actually your judgment is way off. I am not worth your time, and the fact that you came here to see me is a huge mistake."
Yup, we audiences really love being told we are stupid, have no taste, and make a huge errors in judgment.
So what do you do? You suck it up. You realise that despite your own insecurities there is a reason you were invited to this event and you will make sure the people who were so gracious as to come are given the best darn speaker in the history of time. You thank them for attending, for being such a great crowd and then . . .
You speak with authority. You tell stories of your road to publication. You offer the few tidbits of knowledge you have gleaned along the way (*like this post*). You read from your novel.
And afterwards when people come up to you and tell you what a great time they had and how well you spoke, you say, "Thank you." You don't say, "Really, because I don't think I was clear about how that cow totally destroyed my car . . ." Again, don't insult your audience by letting them know that they were wrong in enjoying your talk.
Of course it is nice if you get the chance to ask them some questions, to have a real dialogue, at this point. We don't want this non-humility thing to turn into hubris (something about which I will blog next time).
Say, "Thank you."
Then you can go home, leap onto your bed, and sob into your pillow remembering all the mistakes you made in your presentation, and how you tripped up onto the platform and your hand was so obviously shaking holding the mic.
But at least you honoured your audience and host with respect at the event. And that's the most important thing.