Last weekend at Farpoint I did my very first author reading. It was… Well, it was like, ah…
I was scheduled to share a 30-minute slot on Sunday morning with another new author, Kate Mason. She recently published her first novel and, after an awkward “no, you go first,” “no, I insist,” she began and did a fine job.
I had misread the schedule a bit and thought that I had been assigned the full 30-minutes so, as Kate read, most of my brain was trying to figure out how to adjust. I had assumed that I would just start at the beginning of my 5k word short story and end wherever. Maybe read the whole thing, I don’t know. After all, I didn’t practice ahead of time.
I decided to skip the opening scene (about a page) and start with the heroine, Hanna. I read two scenes (about 4+ pages) where Hanna, suspicious of a possible murder, breaks into a compartment on a train to investigate. She uses a few gadgets (it’s steampunk), utters a few witty quips, and gets started on the adventure. It all went fine for me, although there are a few things I’d like to share.
First, I used the words compartment and corridor an awful lot in that section. I like those words but, too much of a good thing does not make it a better thing.
Second, two people showed up. One was a con friend who I don’t think knew that I was a secret writer. The second was Kate, the other author. Perhaps I should include Kate’s husband and kids but I suspect they wouldn’t have stayed if she hadn’t insisted.
Third, what made me think I didn’t need to rehearse? I practice performing my songs for hours and yet, I thought I could just print out the story and read it cold.
I don’t go to a lot of author reading because the first few I attended were crap. Good writers (maybe) but bad performers. They show up not knowing what they were going to read, not having read it aloud before, and machine gun out a monotone. I know this. I complain about this. I did this.
Also, it’s a well-worn writing tip but, before I send in the revision to my editor, I am going to read the entire story out loud and do a smoothing.