This past Sunday I had my very first book signing event.
It goes without saying I was nervous. The event took place at my local Barnes & Noble and was heavily promoted as a combination book signing, author reading, and Q&A.
No one actually told me this, but I suspected the reading was supposed to be from my book. I also had a hunch I was supposed to be the one to read it.
This might not seem like such a novel concept to most of you. Many, many articles of writing advice will tell you that an excellent way to gauge the flow of your own prose is to read passages aloud to yourself.
Despite having heard this wise tip for years, Sunday's reading was the first time in my life I'd read my own fiction out loud to anyone.
I suppose that's sort of like testing out new recipes on house-guests instead of your own family. People say it's a bad idea, but who among us hasn't done it anyway?
It was a fascinating experience. For those of you who've read Making Waves already, you'll know what I mean when I say I read the Newlywed Game scene starting and ending with Alex's point-of-view.
There were points where I expected people to laugh and they did.
There were points where I expected people to laugh and they didn't.
There were points where I expected no one to laugh, and you could have knocked me over with a feather when complete strangers started cracking up.
It was actually a damn good lesson for me. Not just about the subjective nature of humor, but the fact that any sort of writing sounds different in your head versus my head versus my ears versus your ears.
Don't even get me started on other body parts.
In all seriousness, Sunday's reading convinced me I probably shouldn't keep ignoring all the advice that suggests writers read their own work aloud. It certainly gave me a different perspective, and what writer can't benefit from that?
And speaking of lessons learned, it's possible I should pick a scene without so many curse words when reading to a large group that includes several children under the age of six.
I'd love to know if you've ever experimented with reading your own prose aloud. How did it change things for you? What did you gain from it? If you haven't done it, what's stopping you? Please share.
And in the spirit of sharing, here are a few pics from Sunday's event, courtesy of photographer Craig Zagurski:
P.S. I'm already getting lots of email messages and tweets from people wanting to know where I got the shirt I'm wearing in the pictures. That is my lucky t-shirt, and you can get your very own (along with tons of other great writer-themed gear) right here.