Two weeks until the official launch of my book; two days until my Perth Writers Festival talks. A first book release is something pretty special – and exciting. Its also a tad nerve-wracking.
But don’t worry, I’ve had lots of good advice from my friends:
1. Always prepare a talk in advance, even if you’re told the event will be very casual and you don’t have to – you don’t want to look like an idiot.
2. Never read a prepared talk – just wing it and you’ll look confident. (Yes, I know, hard to work with both of these.)
3. Wear more make-up so you’ll look good in photos. (This was followed by a lesson – it is a sad but true fact that I am no expert in the make-up stakes. Wonder why not? Photos! I never thought about that.)
4. Get a friend to bring their camera to your book launch. (I’m not dopey, I was getting there.)
5. Make sure you have your hair done. (Well, lucky I happened to have a cut scheduled just a week ago. I’m ignoring the concept that having your ‘hair done’ might refer to a wash and blow dry just for that special day. Its starting to feel slightly more like a wedding than I had planned!)
6. ‘I know how you feel. Everytime you talk in public, its just another opportunity to make a fool of yourself.’ (Okay, so that’s not really advice, but I took the point – my friend was being empathic.)
7. ‘Don’t be nervous. Just think: you could be a stand-up comedian doing a Friday night session at the local pub.’ (That’s not advice, either, unless you construe it as advice to avoid comedy nights, something I already do.)
8. Read from your book, people like that. (Now we’re getting somewhere.)
9. Don’t read from your book, people don’t like it. (Oh well, maybe not.)
10. Be yourself. (In theory, good advice – I say it to my son quite often. Mind you, now I’m on the receiving end, I realise its a pretty unimpressive thing to say to someone anxious.)
‘I’m a little nervous about these talks this weekend’, I say to Ben. ‘Probably like when you gave your presentation at school last year.’ (Which incidentally was on his favourite pastime – writing stories.)
‘You’d better take some visual material and plan a kinaesthetic activity, then,’ he says kindly.
‘Oh dear,’ I reply, ‘I don’t have anything like that!’
‘Don’t be negative, mum. Put on your postive glasses.’ (That’ll teach me to use cognitive behavioural therapy techniques with him, won’t it.)
‘I’m sure it’ll be fine,’ I say, ‘I’ll just be honest and say what I feel. You can’t go wrong with honesty.’
He looks at me for a moment as if he’s going to make a rejoinder (what he calls a ‘talk back’) but then wanders off to do something interesting on his iPad. It must be a bit confusing for him because only an hour ago I praised him for telling a white lie to someone to avoid hurting their feelings and now I’m saying that being honest is always right.
Ho hum, I can’t give decent advice, either.