And then, publication! After a year of editing – which is a whole new level of brain sumo. And, of course, publication means publicity, which involves putting your pen down, sometimes for long stretches of time, and talking instead. My first public engagement – ever – was talking to 150 people in Winthrop Hall at UWA as part of Perth Writers Festival. I was so nervous that I mostly read from a script, something I repeated for much of the weekend. However, in my last event of the festival I was paired with two inspirational Australian women writers. Next to me was Anita Heiss, whose gregariousness and humour quickly charms any crowd. And beside her sat Liz Byrski, who might have been sitting in her lounge room, so assuredly did she lean forward and engage the audience, with no visible prompts, just an air of calm clarity that made you feel instantly at ease.
After that, I wanted to be like both of them! I tend to believe that pretty much anything is possible when you set your mind to it – but I soon realised the folly of this ambition. Because the real reason I was inspired by them was because they seemed so unafraid to be themselves. What I actually needed to do was to encourage myself to be less guarded – to be unafraid of being me, not just in my writing, but in public speaking too. It was more about unravelling the knots I had tied around myself. That’s what I decided to aim for.
This year I’ve done fourteen events so far for my new book. I’ve talked to groups numbering from five to eighty. I’ve had a wonderful amount of positive feedback. I’ve also watched one lady nod off repeatedly while I was talking, had one or two people leave mid-speech (hopefully because they had somewhere else to be!), and experienced a couple of people ripping into my book to my face. It was all a learning experience. Sometimes I’ve been as nervous as hell, but on other occasions I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I didn’t write scripts, I just had prompt notes to hand, but I barely used them. I’m a work in progress, but I think I’m heading in the right direction. The irony is that just as you get used to life in public, you’re back to the solitary confinement of writing again. But for all its ups and downs I still don’t want it any other way.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Thank you Sara for your post today!
Last month, I was lucky enough to attend one of those fourteen events, and no, I wasn't the person who was falling asleep! Sara was warm and gracious, spoke well and read from Beneath the Shadows, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
To find out more about Sara and her books, please visit her website.
Here are local bloggers with Sara at the event.