“I can’t write without a reader. It’s like a kiss—you can’t do it alone.” John Cheever
“I don’t typically like author readings,” the gentleman said by way of introduction. “Someone going on and on.”
I had just completed a reading at the Pemberton Library. I stood answering questions and signing books for those who had so generously bought copies of my new novel, Finding Callidora. I had given an introduction to my novel prior to the reading, shown the trailer for the book and when I read, there was a silence in the room that assured me I had everyone’s attention. I can’t really explain that quiet, except to say it’s all consuming, intense and utterly and completely present. I’m encouraged, feel supported and love it whenever it happens.
Every time I experience it during a reading, I remember a time I used to provide group-counselling sessions to addicts at a facility in Edmonton. I would read something to them at the end of our group sessions. In those days, I wasn’t reading from my own writing, but rather the words and stories of other authors I admired. I used this approach, along with many others to give my clients a moment of inspiration or reflection away from their thoughts of alcohol or drug withdrawal. Getting a group of agitated men to settle wasn’t easy and yet the stories of the many authors I chose to read to them, so long ago, helped. It brought about a silence and a peace both in the room and I believe within each individual in the room.
If I’m lucky I now enjoy that kind of quiet reflection and attention from my audiences when I read from my own work. And I thought I had that at my Pemberton reading, but you never really know what is going on in the heads of your audience members. The gentleman standing in front of me was about to tell me what he thought. My stomach rolled into a tight knot.
“I want you to know that the way you connected your work to who you are and why you wrote your novel,” the gentleman went on, “brought so much perspective to your reading. I will be thinking of you as I read your novel. I won’t be able to separate you from your work. That’s a good thing.”
I thanked him for his kind words. He’d been immersed and listening. I wasn’t alone.
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