I so enjoyed my PEN reading last night — and everyone else seemed to, as well. I don't know the count, but the theatre was almost full, so my guess is about 150, perhaps more — which is excellent.
This time I followed some of the advice given in one of the workshops I had taken at the SMA Writers' Conference this last weekend. The workshop was on giving readings, by Terrence Hill, author of the delightful "Two Guys Read..." series, and a fabulous presenter himself.
- It's not a reading, it's a performance.
- Wear something odd, or come in costume.
- Know exactly what you're going to read.
- Select your reading based on the audience.
- Select readings that form a story.
- Offer to write your introduction.
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
- Time your presentation.
- Arrange for someone to ask the first question, in order to break the ice at the beginning of the question and answer period.
- Arrive early and see what's missing. Check the room and the equipment.
- Show your book to the audience, but don't read from it. Read from an edited print-out.
- Write out everything, even the asides.
- End early.
- Prepare a closing: "Thank you for listening."
I very much like Terrence's approach. In many ways, I've been doing much of it already; he confirmed that I was on the right track. I much preferred reading from copy in 16-point type than from a marked-up book, which can be difficult to handle.
One thing I used for the first time was a spring-loaded notebook, a gift from the wonderful writer, Merilyn Simonds. Instead of a scramble of loose sheets or cards, this time I had this elegant portfolio that lay beautifully flat on the podium. It has become essential to me now. I highly recommend it.