|A Reading For the First Time|
Yesterday afternoon was the first time I've read passages of my book in public.
Obviously, I've read them aloud before. All during the editing process I read the manuscript aloud to myself to find the blunders, awkward spots and unspeakable passages and eradicate them with all possible speed. So the text is infinitely familiar to me.
But this was for an audience at the Hollywood Public Library here in my Portland neighborhood, so it was BIG. Unfortunately, the timing of the reading and discussion of The Brides of March coincided with the second big head cold of the school season. Our youngest has been down for a week, me the next longest, then our daughter, then our older son and finally my wife who tends to get things last since she spends as much or more time with her workmates as at home with us, the plague family.
So instead of worrying endlessly before the event, I slept for two hours that morning, unable to keep myself upright with sickness, before toddling down to the library with a bagful of books, a double helping of beverages and our daughter, who decided she wanted to go (brave considering the book is about the whole family, including her, and it could feel kind of weird to have your name bandyed about while sitting there in the front row--I had assumed none of the family would want to brave that!).
I had prepped myself with the comforting idea that often these things have four friends at them and none more, and that it could end up being a comfortable chat about the book and nothing scarier than that. There might have been more folks there (in the end there were at least twenty, and even some of them strangers), but the Oregonian got the place wrong in the Literary Events calendar and the Hollywood Star had the time wrong, so anyone actually arriving there on time at that location really had to make an effort or be personally contacted by me with the info.
Despite all that, it was Good. While I'm sure my head cold did nothing for my diction or clarity of speech, it did break down my naturally inhibited state, and I actually enjoyed myself. Heck, talking about same-sex marriage is something I Like to do, and here was a great chance, after getting some pages of reading out of the way so that the audience would know what the book was about.
Mary Bush, who hosted the event for the library, was lovely and gracious and made me feel like a celebrity. Bless her heart. She even told me that the book was so requested at the library that she hadn't been able to get a copy yet, and that the branch was ordering several more copies! That makes my library loving heart sing. She mentioned in her introduction that I had told her how my grandparents took suitcases of books out of their local Ashland Oregon library each week; what I hadn't told her is that I had worked my way through the entire children's selection at the tiny Campbell River library by the time I was ten, and started in on the grownup humor books, which is perhaps why I ended up writing humor instead of deadly serious literary novels. Every week we would go to the library, just as I took my older two children each week with our enormous book bag.
Child number three, with easily five hundred children's books to choose from at home, comes less often (he is less library friendly and becomes overwhelmed by the images and echoing sound--though now that he has discovered the computer games available, he is more willing to brave the crowds), we still have at least thirty books checked out at any time, and library books on tape are one of my chief delights and my one vice--listening to old favorites I've read at least twice already, while working on portraits.
Yes, I was nervous. But having survived this, I am empowered to try it again, which is good, since I'm doing it again on December 7th at Q Center during the opening of my exhibit. I will survive!
And in case anyone cares to listen--there will be an interview of me on KBOO at 9 am tomorrow (our older son's 16th birthday!) by Ed Goldberg, who is a charming and intelligent man and a delightful conversationalist. Let me know what you think.