I spent most of my childhood on the stage. I have countless theatre and musical performances under my belt. I have a Drama GCSE, Theatre Studies A-Level, and a BA Hons Degree in Drama. I should be able to do this with my eyes shut, right?
I could. Eyes screwed tightly closed, that is.
I have always, and still do, suffer from almost crippling stage fright. I used to stand backstage, waiting for my cue, with my palms sweating and my legs trembling. I could never remember my first line. Nerves had wiped my memory clean. I’d step out onto the stage, squinting against the spotlight, and I still couldn’t remember it. The line before would be spoken, and still… nothing. By some miracle, when I opened my mouth to deliver it, the line always came out. Somehow.
So, why do it to myself? Why put myself through it? Because I love it. I love performing. I hate it, and love it, all at once. I know, it confuses me too.
These days, I do my performing through guest author spots at conventions. I have a few of these under my belt, too. And you know what? Same sweaty palms, same trembling legs, same racing brain fumbling for words. Same extreme buzz afterwards.
I love running workshops. I love the intimacy of a small class. I love sharing what I’ve learnt, and teaching others from my experiences. I love exchanging ideas, and bouncing off one another. I love leaving the room in a buzz of excitement, feeling inspired.
Panel discussions are fun, too. Not as much fun, though. I have the same pressure to come across as interesting and insightful, without the luxury of preparation. I don’t always know what I’m going to be asked. I don’t always know that I’ll have an answer. There is a very real risk of me saying something stupid.
On November 24th I’ll be guest authoring at Sledge-Lit in Derby, UK. I’m running a workshop (entitled Voices in Your Head: Convincing Characters and Dynamite Dialogue), and I’ll be sitting on two panel discussions. And on one of those, I’ll be sharing the line-up with MR Carey. As in the author of The Girl with All the Gifts. Yeah, that one. And I still need to come across as interesting and insightful, while fighting the ever-present urge to fan girl. This is going to be interesting…
If you’d like to
witness the carnage attend Sledge-Lit, you can get all the details and pick up tickets here. The full line-up for the day also includes BSFA award winner and Arthur C Clarke award nominee Dave Hutchinson, multi-award winning horror author Mark Morris, and best selling author Sarah Pinborough, among many others.