I spend an awful lot of time inside my own head. That’s okay – I know my way around and I’m quite safe there. But it does have the effect of making me marginally unsettled when I have to leave my imaginary worlds and interact with real people in the real world – unlike my characters, real, live people don’t necessarily behave the way I want them to, and there’s no chance to rewrite a scene if I don’t like how it works out.
One of these rare sojourns into reality occurred this week when I went to do my first ever school talk as an author. This was a gentle introduction to school visits – at my own child’s primary school giving a general talk on what it’s like to be a writer, maximum half an hour.
Now, I used to do public speaking as a hobby (weird, I know, but I loved it), so I wasn’t worried. Until the day arrived and I couldn’t stop thinking that my public speaking days were a long, long time ago. And there’s something particularly terrifying about a child audience – they don’t have the same gloss of civilisation that suffocates adults – if they didn’t like my talk I was quite sure they’d have no hesitation in telling me so.
However, the die was cast – I’d made my promise, and if I didn’t turn up, Offspring would never forgive me. So I seized my presentation-filled memory stick in one hand, gave a determined grin and stepped into the classrom.
Oh my, it was fabulous fun! Thirty children thronged around me while I spoke and they were the best, most attentive and enthusiastic audience I could possibly have hoped for.
I loved every minute and can’t wait for the next opportunity. Writing can be a solitary opportunity, but it doesn’t have to be. Next time I get the chance to pop into the real world and interact with real readers, I’ll grab it with both hands!