Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened: I'm A Speaker

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Funny thing happened last weekend while I was scrambling eggs. My cell rang—rather, it went into the Garth Brooks Calling Baton Rouge summons. I clicked. On the other end was a Bayou Writers’ Group board member asking if I would replace one of their conference speakers who had to cancel. I said no. I always say no when I’m hit with something totally unexpected. I have to think about things—or be talked into things. I have to roll the beginning, the middle, the end around in my mind. I have to play it out—the good, the bad and the ugly. After listening to my hubby tell me all the reasons I should—quoting me back to me in some cases—I called them back and accepted.
I haven’t slept since.

I have a sore throat.
I wheeze.

My chest feels like an elephant … well, you’ve seen that commercial.
It has been two years since I’ve stood in front of a group of writers and offered encouragement.  I’m not in that “place” anymore—if you know what I mean.

I’m still working on my talk. Well, I have a title. I keep visualizing my audience: all writers. New and experienced. Such a wide gap between the new writer and the experienced writer; between the literary writer and the romance writer. Often our needs are so different. Sure, we have a lot in common, but really, what do we have in common?
Fear?   Insecurity?  Procrastination?

Maybe not.  I’m bringing to mind several attendees who show no fear, who write with confidence and don’t have an ounce of insecurity—at least, they don’t let it show.

My talk is called The Power of The Made Up Mind. Doesn’t that say it all?
But what next?
I have a feeling I’m going to be the kind of speaker I hate; the one that gives a good title but a talk that has nothing to do with it. Ever wander into one of those sessions? I have—too many times.

Maybe I’ll just speak into the microphone: “Hubby says our conference—all writers’ meetings—should be held in graveyards so we’ll write with the end in sight. Now go home and pretend you have a death sentence."

Think of me on Saturday. If I don’t lose my voice, I’ll be standing tall with Poet StellaNesanovich; Literary Agent Brooks Sherman; Linda Yezak, Acquisitions editor of Port Yonder Press; Mona Lisa Saloy, author and folklorist, and my personal hero-- freelance writing expert, Hope Clark, founder of Funds for Writers and author of Lowcountry Bribe.

I’ll speak at 9:10 for 50 minutes. ACK!  I feel my throat closing.

Tell me what you appreciate when hearing conference speakers--and tell me what drives you bananas!


Charles Gramlich said...

You'll do great. After all, I'm pulling for you!

jaybird said...

I give you a lot of credit for having the courage to call back and accept.

I feel writers (no matter what your specified genre) have a ton in common. Speak from your heart, and people will connect to that. Heartfelt, honest speakers will always be appreciated. No matter if the writer is new or experienced.

Best of luck!!

Linda Todd said...

Jess, you're going to be great and I can't wait to see you. Say a big "thank you" to Jim from the gang at Stellar Beans.

Candilynn Fite said...

Oh my goodness! How exciting! I adore public speaking. I speak on roses often, and I find using a tad of humor helps. But the most important tool for me, is just being me. Plain and simple. Good luck!

Lynn said...

Jess, you're inspiring and fun and beautiful - you have nothing to worry about. You'll do great. Just be yourself and tell them what you'd want to know... from the heart. Oh, and have FUN!

Sylvia Ney said...

You did a great job. Thank you for coming and sharing with us.

Lexa Cain said...

I think it sounds very exciting. And since you're playing every possible negative scenario and problem through your mind, I'm sure you'll think up a solution for every eventuality (I do that, too!). I hope you have a wonderful time - good luck! :-)