Reading for Word Factory at Waterstones Piccadilly this week was a whole lot of fun. It was great to read alongside friends and colleagues. I can remember only a couple of years ago being so terrified I stopped reading and froze after just a few lines. Now I look like a pro.
The ceiling was bouncing from the music and dancing above and below there were readings from authors such as Booker Prize-winner Marlon James. Lots to distract and get nervous about.
I say look like a pro because I never feel like one. I think it’s all a confidence trick. Just pretend you’re a pro and see what happens. Readings can be funny things – a mixture of ‘can’t wait for my turn’ and ‘please let me disappear’. My legs were shaking so badly I had to keep shifting from my front leg to my back leg so they didn’t give way completely. I couldn’t stand still or both legs. On the other hand – or rather, the top half – I was giving it my all. If I’m totally honest I was showing off. I got lots of great feedback from people who had seen me read before and no-one noticed. Not one. That’ll do for me. And I really enjoyed it.
One great piece of advice you’re given is that when reading you should make an effort to look up from the page. It drives the energy out, the audience see more of your ‘performance’ and with some eye contact they become more engaged. And I just found out – by looking up you could catch some images like this… people really having a good laugh. Strong and genuine reactions to your work.
Thanks to James Lawson for the pics. A video of the reading is coming soon… yikes!