At Crime and Publishment last weekend, I got to meet people that I ‘knew’ through social media (and lots I didn’t already ‘know’). Tess Makovesky is someone I’ve been friends with on social media for a long time but C&P was the first opportunity we’ve had to meet in real life. I know it won’t be the last, she’s an absolute delight!
This Thursday (10th March), sees Noir @ the Bar hit Carlisle. Tess is doing a reading and has decided to write this piece in celebration. I really wish I could be there this Thursday but, unfortunately, I’m already booked up for something else. I’d like to wish Tess and her fellow readers all the best – I’ll see you at the next one!
C-c-coping with nerves
By Tess Makovesky
This Thursday is a really big day for me. I’m lucky enough to have been invited to take part in the inaugural Noir at the Bar Carlisle event, which means doing a five-minute reading from my forthcoming novella. In public. On a stage, with a microphone. In the middle of a crowded city-centre bar.
For someone as shy and retiring as me, that’s quite a challenge. For those five minutes, all eyes will be on me, all ears will be listening to me speak. Understandably, I’m nervous. I might trip over on the steps and take a dive off the stage. I might blow up the microphone. Or I might just make a total hash of my reading, lose my place and gabble uncontrollably. It’s all rather daunting. So, how does someone nervous cope with something like this?
Well, as with most things in life the key is preparation. I’ve already marked out the passage I want to read. I’ve practised it so I know it’s pretty much the right length for the time slot. I’ve noted the places where I need to breathe (vital for continuing to read and well, you know, to live…) I’ve got a copy printed out. My friend Linda Wright gave some very helpful advice at the Crime & Publishment course last weekend on exactly this subject, and mentioned that sheafs of paper can flap disconcertingly if your hands are shaking. For that reason, I’ve also downloaded the passage onto my tablet, which might offer a more stable, less give-away option.
I’m lucky in one respect, because this isn’t my first experience of reading aloud. Two of my previous writers’ groups favoured reading your work to the rest of the group, and I also read the first paragraph of my novel to around sixty people at a writers’ convention in Brighton a few years ago. That’s been good practice. I know roughly what to expect, which is half the battle won. There’s nothing so unnerving as fear of the unknown.
Most of all, though, I’m coping by reminding myself of two things. One, the people who come along will be in a good mood, enjoying their night out, having a few drinks, and ready to be entertained. And two, the crime writing world is one of the most supportive environments I’ve ever discovered. Friend after friend is not just showing up, but will be happy to hold my hand. Figuratively speaking, and possibly literally. That makes the whole thing much less of an ordeal. So much so that I’m starting to think I might surprise myself and enjoy the evening after all.
If you’d like to come and join in the fun, head for the Moo Bar, Devonshire Street, Carlisle at 7pm on Thursday 10th March. I’ll be reading an excerpt from my forthcoming novella ‘Raise the Blade’, a psychological noir about a serial killer who waits for his victims to select themselves! Alongside me there’ll be six other local authors (Neil White, Zoe Sharp, Jay Stringer, Lucy Cameron, Paul Finch and James Hilton) plus a chance for a member of the audience to read their own work, and free books to be won. The event is co-hosted by the Three Graces themselves, Graham Smith, Mike Craven and Matt Hilton. It should be quite a night!