This is the first piece I’ve seen in a while on that old arts page staple about authors being forced to shill their work in person like… like… like… common plumbers! And accountants! And bus drivers! And… politicians! But for the genuinely public averse, are there alternatives? Yes! Look here, here, and here, for some of mine! Oh, and I’ll be reading in St. John’s, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Kitchener, Winnipeg and New York this fall, as well as anywhere-the-fuck-else someone asks me to go, so I guess it doesn’t really apply.
we’re living in era where a writer can’t just write. They have to be out there. I understand that. Some would argue that readings are part of a writer’s job; I would counter that if someone is terrible at an aspect of their job, then they should instead play to their strengths. I fear that a bad reading could be counterproductive. Of course, not being a drinker of alcohol these days and not having access to a regular supply of tranquilisers possibly doesn’t help either.
I can’t explain my own aversion. I’ve been on live radio and numerous television programmes and can hold my own in conversation with tramps, toffs and rock stars alike, so I know I’m not shy, but reading something so personal as my own work? No. I would genuinely rather jiggle my bare genitals at an audience than do that. In fact, I’m available for bookings. Maybe not children’s parties though.
So how does the performance-shy writer compensate? Well, fortunately it’s the 21st century and there are many alternatives.