Thursday, March 23, 2006

To read or not to read.

I’ve been giving some thought to which bit of my novel I should read when I do my public humiliation events. I mean bookshop readings.

The obvious choice is to read the beginning, I suppose. But that extract has been available through the Macmillan New Writing website for a while now. And there are difficulties in reading it aloud. Not least because of the embarrassing bits where the central character is eyeing up members of the opposite sex.

The other problem, from a reading out loud point of view, is how to distinguish the fragments of advertising copy that I use throughout the book, but which feature quite a bit in the opening section. These are indicated in the book by a different typeface, but I’m not sure how you actually convey a change of typeface when you’re reading out loud. I’d be grateful for any suggestions.

So I could pick a bit from the middle of the book, but the problem there is that the audience will have no real idea what’s going on. The book builds, as most books do. And every scene is informed by the preceding scenes.

I can get round it, I suppose, by doing a bit of preamble, but I have a terrible vision of a roomful of eyes glazing over.

Roomful? Who am I trying to kid?

I think I know, actually, which bit I’m going to do. But will it be long enough (or too long) for the time we’re allotted? Looks like I’m going to have to do a rehearsal. I may even film myself, though I have been advised against that (by Rachel, who else?).

“If you see yourself doing it, it might put you off completely,” was her view. Thanks for the vote of confidence.


Shameless said...

One tip I would give is that I believe you've got to step outside of yourself to do a reading like this. You've got to almost pretend that you're delivering someone else's work, that you're absolutely impressed with the text, and that you want to give each turn of phrase the airing that it deserves. Writers don't often see it this way.

However, that brings me to another point. I've noticed from reading your blog that you are not comfortable with saying good things about yourself. You often put yourself down and almost apologise for the fact that you would want to talk about your work. Please stop this.

You are a good writer. The extract I read was brilliant. I'm looking forward to reading the book. You are getting a novel published and you have every right to be proud and sing that out loud. Don't even attempt to be an apologist for those who suffer from "tall poppy syndrome".

I think if you give yourself a boost - or take the boost that others can give - you will succeed at things like readings. I also strongly believe that the successful marketing of your book will depend on whether you give out the message that it is a damn good read and you expect it to be well received.
All the best. ANd happy reading sessions.

roger said...

Thanks for the tip, Shameless, it's very good advice. And thanks for the pep talk too - I needed it. I'm aware I have a tendency to put myself down. I guess I get in first before anyone else does. It's maybe an English habit? Actually I'm sure people do it all over the world.

The thing is I do believe in the book, and I want to give it the best chance possible of succeeding. I think your suggestion, of imagining that it was written by someone else, is very interesting, and may help me enormously. Thank you.


Shameless said...

I've put your link up on my blog by the way. Hey, even if it wins you even just a few extra copies!

Tribeless said...

Roger, you should be hiring Shameless to manage you :)

Mark Hubbard

roger said...

Hey, Shameless, Tribeless - have you two met?

Shameless, I've put a link to your site too. I hope you get some traffic going your way!

Mark, that's not a bad idea.

Tom Saunders said...

I really admire you, Roger. Couldn't do anything of the sort myself. Nightmare scenario.

roger said...

I haven't done it yet, Tom! I'm coping by not really thinking about it too much.

Debra Broughton said...

I haven't been to many readings, but my favorite was Barry Hines.

He read from Elvis over England, choosing a couple of his favorite sections, from somewhere in the middle of the book. That helped, because he was enthusiastic about them.

I remember he introduced the book by reading from the back jacket, because 'these marketing people can do it far better than me". And he did give a brief intro before he read the scene.