If you read my blog last week, and I hope you did, you know I am a writing whore. It’s ok, I don’t try to hide it by writing under a pen name. All of my novels (all=one) are published under my real name as are my book and restaurant reviews. There is no shame in being a writing slut!
As much as I enjoy writing, if you asked me to read my work in public, I might be tempted to run away. (It’s a good thing I’m a running slut too!) I’m not a particularly shy or quiet person but getting up to speak in a room full or even half full of people causes significant anxiety.
Just a few weeks ago, I was asked to attend a pitch to a potential client. In our prep meeting, I was told I would have to say a few words about myself: my name, my years of experience and what I do in a nutshell. It was not difficult to compile this information since I know my name and how long I’ve been a trademark paralegal and I’ve had to summarize what I do countless times. Nevertheless, the thought of doing this in the presence of four partners, including the chairman of my firm and a bunch of potential clients, set my pulse racing wildly. I wrote down my “speech”, all of 16 words, and recited it over and over again, “Hi, I’m Meredith Schorr. I’m a trademark paralegal with 15 years experience in domestic and international trademarks, including, blah, blah, blah, blah.” “Hi, my name is” Crap, I meant “Hi, I’m Meredith Schorr. I’m a ….” I was still memorizing the stupid piece of paper mere seconds before my turn! And I have no recollection of speaking at all. I just remember it being over.
When I told people my book was being published, many of them asked if I was going on a book tour and if I’d have readings at Barnes & Noble and other brick and mortar book stores. While I did participate in a online book tour (blog tour) and look forward to doing it again with a second novel, there was no big cross-country tour, or (even cross-town tour) for Just Friends With Benefits. I published with a small boutique publisher and have not exactly hit the big time. I’m ok with that although, of course, I still have big dreams of book tours and movie deals. On the flip side, the very idea of reading excerpts from Just Friends With Benefits in public as part of a live book tour sends my knees wobbling, and not the sort of knee wobble one gets from a really good kiss but the sort of knee wobble one gets out of sheer terror!
I was taking a novel writing course with Gotham Writer’s Workshop while I was writing the first draft of JFWB. My awesome instructor, multi-published YA writer, Matt De La Pena, had us read a scene from our pages before beginning the critique. When it was my turn, he ALWAYS chose a sex scene from JFWB. If you’ve read the book, you know there are only a handful of these scenes but out of all the scenes he could have chosen for me to read out loud, he picked the sex scenes! Writing sex scenes is not my favorite thing to do but making me read them out loud to my classmates was just mean!
I’ve always dreaded public speaking. I had to take a public speaking class in high school in order to graduate with a Regents diploma and I worried about it for years prior. I got an A-. I was told I would have gotten an A if I didn’t always speak so fast. Duh – I was trying to get it over with as quickly as possible! Back in the 9th grade, I had to do an oral presentation in my Social Studies class. We had to present some aspect of the world in 3D. I remember creating some sort of globe of the earth with clay. I am the WORST artist and so I’m sure the globe was not a very good representation of the earth but I’m pretty certain the report itself made up for it. I remember the feeling of relief passing through me when I finished the presentation and inquired of my classmates whether they had any questions and crossing my fingers behind my back that no would raise his hand. No such luck. Dante Golio raised his hand and loudly said, “Can you repeat that?” Since I was famous for speed talking, everyone knew what he meant and the entire class erupted into hysterics, including my teacher, Mr. Sherman. I ran out of the classroom crying. It was horrible. I’m on the verge of tears right now just thinking about 14 year old me running out of the class in tears and then having to come back in later with my tail between my legs. Dante never apologized. If he’s reading this or any of my Facebook friends from high school are in touch with him – tell him I’m still waiting for his apology and am glad I said “no” when he asked me on a date in the 7th grade.
I was the maid of honor for my sister’s wedding when I was still in college. The wedding was in February but my toast was written by November. It was a great toast but I had to do about 4 shots of tequila before making it. And since I had a terminal case of laryngitis in my college years, I sounded like a frog. A (very) drunk frog. One of my best friends has now asked me to be the maid of honor for her wedding this June. I haven’t started writing my toast yet but I’ve jotted down notes. I don’t think I’m up for 4 shots of tequila anymore but I will definitely require some liquid coverage.
It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, that I do not like to sing in public either. In terms of karaoke, I enjoy belting out songs in groups, or even me and just one other person. But as soon as I am alone up there, I feel like Cindy Brady when she got paralyzing stage fright on that game show. I’ve always wished I was a ham and someone who could just get up in front of tons of people without a second thought, but I’m not that person. Years back, my friend Alisa tricked me into singing alone one night at karaoke by promising to sing with me. We were supposed to sing Another One Bites the Dust by Queen. (Strange song choice, I know, but I have a pretty deep voice and there are very few high notes.) Anyway Alisa sang the first two words with me and then *quietly* walked away leaving me on stage alone. I completely froze and when I yelled at her later, she said she was trying to help me overcome my fear. Next time, Alisa: DON’T. Even in the presence of friends I’ve had for almost 20 years, I require multiple drinks and am still nervous on the rare occasion I take the mic at my friend Dan’s house parties. Dan says my “voice is pretty good but I have no stage presence.” That’s because I’m terrified, Dan 😦
In sum, in terms of my least favorite activities, speaking in public is up there with going to the dentist, doing laundry and commuting in the rain and I am most definitely NOT a public speaking slut. I guess you could say I am a public speaking prude 🙂