April 25, 2011

Writers' Worst Fears

Recently in our writing group we were talking about the satirical (yet oh-so-true) piece in The Onion about tiny audiences for readings.

It came out that this actually happened not a few days ago to a friend of ours. This friend, confronted with just one audience member, handled it bravely and with poise. I don't think I would have handled it nearly as well.

Then, as it turned out, today was Mortification Monday over at Shannon Hale's blog. No attendees at readings, introduced by the wrong name, strangers accusing her of stealing their ideas--all of this and more has happened. REALLY. And not just to Shannon Hale, of course, but to authors at large.

Thanks, I suppose, to misery loving company, I feel marginally better about my minor embarrassments: a YA book launch with no actual teenagers in attendance. (Sigh.) A school visit at which 75% of my audience were confused ESL students, and the only ones asking questions (except for one student) were the teachers and librarians. Profuse nervous sweating that was probably noticeable enough to see from space.

I have no doubt I'll have similar reports in the future, or worse. It's the life of a writer--the not-very-glamorous part. And if you're an introvert like me, sometimes you do sweat the small stuff (uh, no pun intended), regardless of the cliché advice not to.

If the prospect is getting you down, check out the Shrinking Violets' interview with Nancy Ancowitz (and basically anything on the Shrinking Violets' blog), and Nancy's website, Self-Promotion for Introverts. And remember that you're not alone! You aren't. In fact, if you have any embarrassing or just frustrating reading-related incidents haunting you, feel free to get them off your chest in the comments. We're here to listen. :)

Thanks go to Tanita for most of these links. 


Anonymous said...

This is different than a reading, but last month, I had just one baby and his mom show up to one of my baby storytimes, which was really pretty awkward. How it's supposed to work is that we do fifteen minutes of songs and rhymes where all the adults sing and chant together--which makes a big impression on the younger-than-18-month crowd--and then we play. This all falls pretty flat when there's just one mom and one baby. Also the mom was a relatively new immigrant who does not have a great grasp of English and had never been to storytime before. I think she thought I was crazy. And not in the good way, either.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Oh, yikes, Adrienne! That had to be awful. I bet the baby still enjoyed it, though. :)

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Sure, I've had the one-person signing. You give that person a lot of attention, sign stock, and move on. I kind of assumed the one- (or zero-) person signing happens to every writer sooner or later--unless maybe the person is already famous before becoming an author!

tanita✿davis said...

Yeah, Jennifer, you just have to roll with it, I'm sure. Since I'd really rather give a reading from a dark closet, it sounds good to me, but I know if you've actually psyched yourself up for it, the disappointment that nobody came would be bitter.

But, though The Onion made a joke out of it, I think what Ethel did was just right - you give that one person your all, and relax and enjoy yourself.