Since the announcement of my three-book deal, I’ve had a number of writing groups ask me to come speak to them.
Most are calling dibs for the months surrounding my book release, which is funny – the idea that not only am I a desirable public speaker, but that booking me requires a 16-month advance notice and anything beyond the promise of free cookies.
Though I’m an introvert who’d be happy to live in a cave eating roots most days, I actually don’t mind public speaking. This is a contrast to Pythagoras, who if given the choice between speaking at a funeral or being the guy in the casket, would gladly climb in and pull the lid closed.
In the spirit of full-disclosure, I’ve warned these groups not to expect a stand-up comedienne. Blog-funny and book-funny don’t necessarily translate to in-person-funny.
I tried to explain this to my mom last night, but she disagreed. “You’ve always been a funny public performer. Remember the Christmas dolls?”
Ah, yes. My first foray into the world of professional presentations.
I was maybe four at the time, and all the girls in my Sunday school class were outfitted with obnoxious dolly costumes, herded onto a stage, and forced to bleat out a song that went, “We are pretty Christmas dolls, Christmas dolls, Christmas dolls…”
Not being a particularly gifted singer or an especially cute child, I wasn’t singled out for any special position in the chorus.
But during our first live show, it was clear to me someone needed to step up to the plate. The other girls seemed content to shyly murmur the words with downcast eyes and voices that couldn’t be heard over the piano.
This would never do.
Boldly, I stepped up and began to scream – yes, scream – the chorus.
“We are pretty Christmas dolls, Christmas dolls, Christmas dolls…”
Since the director hadn’t provided any choreography, I took it upon myself to dance along the top riser, lifting my dress up and down over my head in time to the music.
It’s possible I knocked another performer off the risers, though my mother assures me there were no lawsuits.
By the time the performance was over, several girls had fled the stage in terror, and at least one audience member had fallen off his seat laughing.
I wasn’t trying to be funny, but apparently I accomplished it. That’s often how it works for me.
So if you’re thinking of asking me to come speak at your writers’ group – hey, I’m flattered. If you have cookies, I’m in.
But I make no guarantees I’ll be funny. Not intentionally, anyway. And if you want me to lift my dress over my head, that requires an extra cookie.