Writing used to be just about writing, but nowadays it’s different. Writers are expected to – perish the thought – engage with readers.
Despite having been a teacher, the very thought of speaking to adults has always scared me, but, having recently uttered aloud words I had written for a whole five minutes at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, I began to find a ‘bit of brave’ hidden in my depths. It had kept very quiet until that point, but suddenly decided to wave a little flag to let me know it was there. And it wasn’t even a white one.
To digress for a moment, I volunteer in our lovely little village library.
Had it not been for a large group of valiant volunteers, it would have closed down a few years ago. It’s now thriving. The Library Committee does a great job, and frequently comes up with ideas for events.
At a volunteers’ meeting last year, I heard a voice offer the services of its owner. It said, ‘You know I write books? Well, if you like, I could do a talk.’ The voice was very familiar. I soon put my finger on its identity; it was mine! What had I done???
I let a few months slide by, then another meeting came up. I hate letting people down, so I offered again, this time with a forthcoming date, and a poster.
Now was the job of advertising it – and there wasn’t long to do it. I left a post on Facebook, and several reminders on Twitter leading up to the day.
I trawled the streets in the rain, handing out posters to coffee shops, another library, and a stationer’s. I emailed the library volunteers and WhatsApped my friends.
Oh, and I planned my talk which was to last for round about an hour.
Finally, the day came – today.
So many people who wanted to come had to work, so I really had no idea how many would turn up. I set up a little area for myself and arranged my books behind me, covers facing out from a bookshelf. On every seat I left a bookmark showing covers of my adult books, and also business cards with my website details. I also had a money tin with change for £5 and £10, should anyone wish to buy a £4.50 book.
My friend, Heidi, made a beautiful ring cake and I made chocolate brownies.
Finally, a little crowd began to gather. Many of the faces were familiar which was lovely as any fear I might have had immediately dissolved.
In all, I read five humorous stories and three poems, mostly new stuff, as yet unread or unheard by another human being. To hear laughter and to see smiles boosted my confidence no end. They clapped heartily, too.
I had brilliant feedback after I’d finished. Several people came up to talk and to buy books. They wanted to know when I’d be ‘doing the next one’ and had lots of suggestions as to where I should offer my services.
I never ever thought I’d be able to do anything like this, but now I know that I can, I’d like to do it again.