While I may have found my written voice I now find I have to unearth my speaking voice as well. You may think this would have been a given but I did not realize the two went hand in hand. When I envisioned book signings I literally thought that is what it meant. I would show up, sign books, and thank the people for reading. Granted that is the way it is at some signings but it turns out that is not always the case. In recent weeks I have been setting up at a lot of local craft fairs, selling, and signing my books. During my first event I had a lady approach my table and ask me what the book was about. I smiled and handed her a book, and told her the overview was on the back. She looked me straight in the eye and said “no, I want you to tell me what your book is about.” I will be honest, that caught me totally off guard so I then proceeded to muddle my way through a brief description of the book hoping all the while that I was doing it justice. While I am not sure I did, the lady did in fact thank me, and in turn bought the first book of the morning. That scene repeated itself several times during the day.
At the next signing, which was again at a craft fair, I was prepared. I had thought it through and knew what I wanted to say. Knowing what I wanted to say and saying it each time is a different story as there was one or two times when, once again, I fumbled my way through the description. Still as the day wore on I felt more and more comfortable talking with people and telling them about my book without experiencing stage fright.
I have also learned that when I go to some signings not only will I be expected to discuss my book but I will be expected to do a reading as well. To be honest this really came as a shock to me. I mean I have been in bookstores and have seen areas set up for readings but never realized that in some cases this is mandatory. I must admit the thought of actually standing up in front of people and reading my book scares the heck out of me. I can write all day and love letting my voice be heard through the written word but letting that same voice be actually heard in the true sense truly frightens me. So much in fact that at a recent open mike event I froze and could not go on. In my defense maybe because when I went I was not fully aware of what an open mike event even was. In reading the description I thought it was poets that were getting up and reading what they had written. Imagine my horror when I found that my publisher, trying to be helpful, had placed my name on the list. I told him I couldn’t go on, more importantly; he would not want me to go on, as I would totally butcher the reading.
As it was my editor, Michelle Johnson, was at the event and graciously stepped up to the plate and hit the ball out of the park with her performance. And it was a performance. She used her voice, and being so personally vested in the story, was able to take the listeners on a journey of emotions in one of the most poignant chapters of the book. I am grateful, not only that she read it, but that she did it in a way that truly brought my story to life. I was able to sit back and listen to how it should be done, how it needs to be done, how is deserves to be done. I have been practicing reading that same chapter, and hope I can evoke the same reaction that the crowd showed that night. I hope that I can find my voice and once again let my voice be heard.