I don’t find it difficult to read out loud as such and always loved taking my turn doing that at school when I was little, so this wasn’t the problem. It was just the fact that I was reading something I’d written myself as opposed to someone else’s work. And it had to be a scene describing my hero.
I don’t know about other authors, but when I read the words on the screen at home they always seem ok. Reading them out loud, however, makes them sound trite, silly, clichéd and downright rubbish. I’ve no idea why (unless they are all of the above, which I desperately hope they’re not!). And why, when you’re standing there in front of an audience, does it feel like you have an inner copy editor inside your brain? He/she is picking holes in the plot and tweaking the sentences the whole time, even though you know full well a real copy editor has already done this, not to mention the umpteen times you’ve gone through it yourself.
So why did the whole experience make me cringe?
Maybe it’s because when you read a piece out of context like that, you don’t get the whole picture? It’s a bit like the nominations for worst sex scenes every year – I’m sure they can’t all be as bad as they’re made out to be, because there has been a build-up to that particular scene beforehand which we’re not being shown.
Or maybe it’s just me. As we’ve discussed before on this blog, the whole standing up in front of a crowd thing is very daunting and I’m still learning. But I know one thing for sure - if I have to do it again, I’m going to think very carefully about which scene I choose. And I think I’ll pick a scene where I don’t have to read about naked men’s chests and wet breeches because that definitely didn't help ... (And no, I wasn’t describing Colin Firth).
Thankfully, it was over quite quickly and after that, I could relax and enjoy the rest of the festival. One of the highlights was taking part in a “heroine’s fashion parade” (ie. we had to dress as the heroines of our books), which was great fun. It’s not every day you get to stand next to Marilyn Monroe or a chicken!
Please stop by again on Sunday to hear from Liz