I had a reading/book talk last night at the Ames Free Library in Easton, Mass. The crowd was pretty small, but very engaged and asked great questions. The alarming thing about this talk was that I totally blanked out for a very long moment, unsure of how to start talking. It was quite an off-putting experience, considering I have another book talk this Saturday at the Ashland Public Library and then a presentation I’m doing at the New England SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Conference in another week. So yes, the feeling of having my mind wiped suddenly clean by nerves in front of a small crowd is disconcerting. What will happen in front of a whole room full of people?
Public speaking does not come naturally to me, but I’m trying to get better. I find that when people are engaged and ask good questions it can actually be fun – after all, I am talking about writing, Catherine Howard and Tudor England, which are among my very favorite topics on earth. Also, I can feel that little kick of adrenaline that helps me pretend that I’m comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. The only problem is that, like yesterday, that adrenaline can be sluggish and not actually kick in until I’ve been speaking for a few minutes already. When I started the introduction for my reading at my book launch there was a voice shouting in my head “Where are you already, adrenaline? Hurry up, I’m starting here!”
That said, this weekend (after the Ashland reading) will be devoted solely to practicing my presentation, out loud. I feel that some ice cream may be necessary to get me through this. And perhaps pizza or thai food and, oh, bread – yes, some nice bread. I’ll let you know how it goes.