Sunday, April 28, 2013

Speech! Speech!

Got invited to talk to the library group at the University Club in Portland, courtesy of the writer-in-residence, who knows me. Any particular subject? I asked. Nope. Whatever you want, twenty minutes?

No problem. I can do twenty minutes when the refrigerator light goes on ...

They had nice library with signed covers by other writer guests, some of whom were really heavyweights: John Irving, Norman Mailer, Jean Auel, Phil Margolin, like that. As usual, I would be fighting above my weight class ...

We had a really good dinner, three kinds of wine, salad, crusted halibut and a fried mashed potato fritter and asparagus, a berry and cream desert, all really well-prepared.  

There were two of us, a mainstream writer who is a professor at the local U, and me, and she went first. Did a thoughtful, scholarly talk on the way she writes, motivations, like that.

I got up, and spun a tangled web about how to overcome fear of public speaking, introverts, science fiction conventions, being mugged in New York City, and other stream-of-consciousness blather I can't recall. But I made them laugh, and that was the goal. 

That's usually my goal. 

At such a gathering, most of the attendees–and there were what? A hundred or so?–won't have read anything I've written, nor are they apt to do so. So that's not the way to go. 

At the end of the talk, what I want them to remember was that I was a funny character who left them smiling and not tapping their fingers on the table wishing I would get the hell off the rostrum, puleeze!

It went well. There was a brief Q&A at the end, we signed a few books. I talked to a young writer and answered a few of her questions. That was that. 

One of the perks of my job. Sometimes you get free food and a captive audience ...

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