Some years ago, long before my first book, Hands at Work, was published, I hopefully attended a workshop session entitled “The Art of the Author Reading.” There I heard some of the best advice I’ve ever received about how to prepare for and offer a reading. Suggestions such as printing out the passages you want to read so you’re not fumbling through your book to find the right sections. Or having a “plant” to ask the first question, avoiding having you and the audience wait through that awkward silence before someone has the courage to speak.
What I continue to value most, however, was the reminder to think of it not as a reading, but as a performance. That means remembering to make eye contact (memorizing a few lines of your reading will help you be able to look up from your manuscript). Rehearsing. And your “costume” – giving some thought to what you’ll communicate by what you’re wearing.
Before the launch of Hands at Work, I purchased a couple of one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted “collage” blouses. In anticipation of the release of BOUNTY: Lopez Island Farmers, Food, and Community, I went to the Lopez Farmers Market and bought a locally-made, linen tunic.
As I prepare for readings from my new memoir, Hiking Naked: A Quaker Woman’s Search for Balance (Homebound Publications), I’ve again been searching for the right items for my costume. Once again, I found the perfect garment at the Lopez Farmers Market at the “Naked Clothing” booth. Thanks to a couple from Sedro Woolley, WA who silkscreen beautiful images on T-shirts made of hemp, cotton, and bamboo, I’m set for my upcoming author events.
The design on the shirt I chose is a trillium – so fitting for my first event in Stehekin, WA, home of the annual Trillium Festival. If you’re in the vicinity of this remote area where most of the memoir is set, please join me on Sunday, September 10, 7:30 PM at the Golden West Visitor Center. And let me know what you think of my performance.
*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.