Reading Aloud by Debbie Bennett
It’s been an odd year so far. April already and I don’t seem to have achieved anything – writing or otherwise. I’m unsettled due to an impending house move and the creative juices are drying up completely.
That being said, I’m still writing scenes for Littlewich Ways, our local community radio play series. It’s about the only thing I have any motivation for writing right now, but I’m sure things will pick up when life is more settled.
And on Thursday I’m “guesting” at the Knutsford Literary Society. I wrote about this last month and I thoroughly enjoyed socialising with other authors and readers. But this meeting is my meeting. All about me. And my books. Scary is an understatement.
Now I talk a lot – everybody tells me that. I embarrass my family by chatting to the check-out people in the supermarket. I’m the person in a clothes shop who tells somebody they look nice in a dress they are trying on; even though I haven’t been asked for my opinion, I feel obliged to give it. And people who know me may say they think I enjoy being the centre of attention – but really, that’s not true. I’m great at talking if I have something to hide behind. I can run a convention of 400 people because I have things to do and organise. It’s not about me at all, is it?
But eyes on me as me? That’s different. And reading my books out loud is frankly a terrifying prospect. Leaving aside the fact that I don’t like the sound of my own voice (does anybody?), reading one’s own work is like stripping in public. It’s personal. This is me. This is the inner workings of my mind. This is my soul. It may sound pretentious, but other authors will get it – particularly those who, like me, are self-published and despite healthy sales and good reviews (and even long-ago agency-editing), lack the validation of a traditional publisher. I find it incredibly hard to do. What if people don’t like it? Or worse still – what if they’re bored?
Why do we do this to ourselves? Sometimes I wish I’d just taken up gardening instead …