I found out today that I will be reading an excerpt from “Bitter, Sweet” at the Word on the Street in Halifax on September 27th. I don’t mind admitting that it sort of threw me for a loop when I received the email. Sure, I had blindly replied “yes” when asked if I wanted to “participate” in the festival, naively thinking that I’d be there to promote my book, perhaps nod and smile at passersby— after all my book’s not out yet. What the heck am I going to read from? I guess I should have figured out that “participate” actually meant read but I’m not always so good at reading between the lines.
Of course my mind ran like wild fire for about a half hour after reading the email. I even phoned my sister to ask if there was possibly something wrong with me for not knowing exactly what was expected of me. There must have been something I missed in the email. “You will be reading at 1:30 at the kids and young adult stage.” Good news! According to my sister, the email was in fact vague. Nothing wrong with me—at least according to her. Perhaps a mistake had been made, I thought. She checked the schedule on line. Sure enough there I was, Laura Best/ “Bitter, Sweet”
So I quickly emailed another author whose book is also coming out this fall with Nimbus to see if she is reading and guess what? She’s also reading from her yet to be published book. Luckily, she was able to put things into perspective for me. She’s as much in the dark about this as I am but figures that we will be told later what to expect. I immediately felt as though I had found a kindred spirit, even began to dream that there were others just like us out there somewhere—dazed and confused and wishing for a little more clarity. We first time authors are understandably naive. Didn’t help that neither of us had even attended the festival before.
I’ve read my work on several occasions in public but I like to have plenty of preparation. I want to know exactly how each word needs to be said, when and where to put emphasis. A lot of people assume that when you’re standing in front of a crowd that you’re nervous because you feel self-conscious about your looks or how you’re dressed. That’s never been my issue. For me it’s being able to read smoothly and clearly, to read in a way that will interest others, to make eye contact with the audience and not lose my place. I find it a bit nerve-wracking if I’m being honest. I suppose most people do. But this is all part of the territory.
A few years ago my husband and I went to Lunenburg to a Margaret Atwood reading when “The Tent” first came out.. On the way home he said, “That will be you some day reading in front of a crowd.” I really appreciated his support but didn’t dream that “some day” would come so quickly. Wish me luck on the 27th and hopefully by the time I get to the festival I’ll know exactly what I’m doing.