Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Thanks, Julie! And talking about talking.

Well, isn't this nice? As well as rambling away on my own blog, I've now been invited by Julie to ramble away on hers too - thanks, Julie, and although I'm not a frequent blogger and also quite forgetful these days (!) I will make an effort to remember, occasionally, to post here for a change. I hope you don't regret asking me!

I thought I'd say a few words today on the subject of talking. Not talking as in cosy chats with our mates, but talking as in Giving A Talk. Eeek! When I was a newly published author, and was first invited to Give A Talk, I shook in my shoes at the very idea of it. You must be joking, I thought: why do you think I'm a writer? If I was any good at speaking, I'd be a speaker instead!

But I'd made myself a promise not to turn down any opportunities of promoting my books. And after the first few occasions, when I was so nervous my voice came out in a little squeak, when the audience was tiny even though it was bolstered by kind friends and family, but still made me feel so intimidated I could barely look at them - I began to get used to it. People were actually listening to me! Nobody seemed to be dozing off, walking out in disgust or even taking issue with anything I said. And all I was doing, if I'm honest, was talking about myself - which was quite bemusing really as I'd never considered myself interesting, in the slightest!

The point is that, as writers - no matter if we've had a couple of short stories published, or one novel self-published, or features accepted by a magazine, or even if we've got a story to tell about how we've tried and tried for years but have never had anything published - guess what? We are interesting, to a lot of people out there (and there are hordes of them) who would like to be writers, or who like the idea of being a writer.

I'm still by no means a seasoned speaker - I'm not well-known, and only get invited to do talks in my local area by contacting libraries, book groups, etc - and sometimes, one thing leads to another. A lady in the (small, intimate) audience at one of my library talks last year just happened to be the speaker secretary for a new U3A group - and invited me to be their first speaker - which is what I'll be doing on Monday afternoon. This one will be an audience of at least a hundred, in a hall, with a PA system - a huge leap from the cosy groups of sometimes only half a dozen I've addressed in the past! Will I be nervous on the day? It remains to be seen ...

It's nice when people say they enjoy my talks and find them interesting; particularly nice when would-be writers say I've given them hope because my background is so 'normal' - I'm not university-educated or from a literary background so they get a feeling of 'If she can do it, anyone can!'

And that's how I feel about giving talks. If I can do it - with my lack of experience, lack of anything much to talk about apart from my life as a writer, and my initial absolute terror of the whole thing - then honestly, anyone can. If you get the opportunity, try talking to a really small group first, be yourself, and imagine everyone there is your friend. By the end of the talk, hopefully they will be!


klahanie said...

Greetings Olivia,
This most certainly is nice. Nothing like a bit of rambling on another site:-)
Public speaking can be a most nerve-racking experience. Like you note, be yourself, indeed, try and put your audience at ease. In turn, I find, when I have spoken in front of a group of folks; this helped put me at ease. It most definitely helps to think of them as your friends.
What I do is a verbalisation technique. I have told those attending my meeting how nervous I am. By verbalising this, I become less nervous and I note that the audience smiles and can relate to what it would be like in the same situation.
Well done on being a 'guest' writer here. Happy writing to you.
With respect and warm wishes, your way, Gary

Julie P said...

Thank you so much, Olivia for posting on my blog! It's quite liberating to post on someone else's blog isn't it!! I enjoyed it when I did one for Carole.

And you posted on a subject close to my heart - the terrors of public speaking! I hate it, as you know,but I think it's something writers should do and, as you say, generally people are interested in writer's and what they have to say.

I can't imagine talking to a big group.I've done seminars and workshops when I did my 730 and 998
adult education teaching courses when I was a nurse and I didn't mind that. I also used to do information sessions for the elderly when I did a stint in the day hospital. Only trouble was instead of telling them to drink more water I said urine by mistake!!Oh my colleagues did laugh! And they took every opportunity to remind me of the incident for months afterwards!! I wonder why I haven't been asked to speak in public very often since?

I'm always afraid that I'll clam up, say the wrong thing, or speak in tongues! I've never been asked to talk about my writing - but you never know!

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Hi, Gary! I've heard many people give the advice to imagine your audience in their underwear or naked - but that never worked for me as I have a far too furtile imagination for my own good and it makes me laugh or blush!

I think focussing your attention on someone in the audience who is smiling helps, or walking around the room a bit and getting them to contribute so you don't have to talk so much!

Julie xx

Olivia Ryan said...

Hi Gary, and thanks for your welcome and your very true comments about public speaking. Yes, I always tell the audience whatever I'm feeling too - whether I'm nervous, or worry that they can't hear me at the back, or just that they'll fall asleep (!) - it helps to get them on my side!

And thanks Julie - yes, it was really nice to write for your blog - thank you so much! I laughed out loud about your 'urine' mistake - how funny! You know, you will get asked to talk about your writing ... if you volunteer! That's the only way to start. And yes, it's very very scary at first but as Gary says, it gets easier because each successful occasion gives you more confidence. xx

Julie P said...

I don't think my writing track record warrents volunteering to talk about it at the moment, Olivia! I don't know who would want to listen to me rambling on about nothing! There was talk about me doing a joint talk with someone else at my writing group - so I wouldn't mind that so much = it's with strangers I think I'd struggle!

Who knows what may happen when I get some more pieces published, though! You're very brave with your public speaking adventures!

Julie xx

Olivia Ryan said...

Thanks Julie! The joint talk at your writing group sounds like a perfect first venture for giving a talk ... a nice sympathetic audience. I think generally, though, people appreciate you just for standing up there and talking about yourself - e.g. the work you are putting into getting published, how you're going about it, etc. You'd be surprised! But as I said, I was very nervous the first few talks I did. Like everything, it gets easier. Today's talk turned out to be to over 160 people - a full hall, with at least a dozen people standing! But it went well, so I now have more confidence for doing that kind of thing again - if I ever get asked again! x