Monday, October 03, 2011

Tongue-tied before an audience

Jungle Red Writers, one of my favorite blogs, had a segment today on the various members experiences on TV and radio--most had funny stories to tell of disasters. I've had my share of those too. In a small town in Missouri in the early '60s I used to host a program called, I think, "The People's Health." I'd interview doctors about various health problems: "Tell me, doctor, if I have a pain inmy side is it apprendicitis?" Generally it went fairly well, and I was comfortable. But that was radio.
I've been interviewed on local TV and done a few interview programs myself--30 minutes talking with an author. When someone interviewed me, I was fairly comfortable with it. But when I was doing the interviewing and they'd flash that "15 minutes" card, I'd think, "Omigosh, I"m only halfway through." Somehow I always muddled along the rest of the way, and it went fine, but I don't leap at TV opportunities.
My children, on the other hand, were seasoned TV personalities at an early age. They appeared, twice I think, on a program called "Hobab," which somehow means helper. Once they all sat in a row, and the hostess asked them what they did to help their mother. The older three jumped in--they made their beds, the cleaned their rooms, they helped with dishes. I mean, they were really angels. Jordan, who couldn't have been more than four, looked at them all as if she'd never seen them before. When it was her turn, she said, "The maid does all that." Later, the hostess asked if they knew policemen were their friends. Again, the older ones gave the pat answers, but Jordan said, "And if you don't have a Cadillac or a Mercedes,they will help you get one." Honest! The days of maids, Cadillacs and Mercedes disappeared quite soon after when I became a single parent, but I've always loved remembering that show.
In truth, my son-in-law Christian is the pro in the famiily, having been a child model and appeared in various TV series--Christian, so sorry I can't remember the names of them but you were charming. Besides, I knowo he doesn't like talking about it a lot now.
Lord knows I've done a ton of public speaking in my time but to this day it makes me nervous. I am quite comfortable with a book club or other small group, and I love doing q&a but I get bored listening to myself talk for 20-30 minutes. I get part way through and think, "How far is it to the end/" A good friend of mine always protests, "You do such a good job, I don't know why you're so reluctant." For a while, I just turned down speaking engagements, but now, with Skeleton in a Dead Space, to promote, I'm getting out at it again. Tomorrow night I will speak to an expected audience of 75 women at University Baptist Church, but it will be an interview format, and the interviewer is a good friend who does a great job at that. She has interviewed me for programs before, and we always have a good time. So I'm dipping my toe in the water.
But today I spoke in an entirely different setting. A good friend died on Thursday and her daughter asked me to speak at the service. At first I waffled, but my youngest daughter and my brother both said, "Of course you will." Jordan pointed out that Connie was so precious to me I had to speak in her memory. And I knew it was an honor to be asked. So with nerves on edge, I spoke--briefly--which I think is appropriate in that situation. I only stumbled once--by somehow starting to substitute the name of the protagonist in my current novel for Connie's name--but Jordan said I recovered quickly and nicely. I was glad to be able to honor Connie with my memories of times with her--good times, mostly lunches that we both enjoyed. But the relationship goes way back and involves another story--not for here.
I have two additons to this post: one is that I am relieved beyond measure by the verdict in the Amanda Knox case. I wish her godspeed back to her old life which, of course, she'll never be able to recover. But I hope she can move on to a new and fulfilling life. Someone said they see a book deal in the future--I sincerely hope publishers don't start hounding her right away and that her family continues to be her advocate and protection.
And finaly, this picture. Kindergarten homework sure wears a guy out--and his grandmother.

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