L.A. Craig perfomed at our second Pure Fiction event in Whitley Bay library last November. Here are her reflections on that experience…
The email from Elaine said, ‘Invitation to Read your Work’. My reaction? No way, Jose, not on your nelly, never in a million years.
Because I’m not a speaking out loud kind of person, and anyway I can’t even speak that loud, but mostly– who would want to listen? Sure, I’d had snippets published here and there, but in theory, I’d never actually gone public before. Not in the flesh.
Elaine mentioned there would be questions.
What? Don’t think so. Good lord, I don’t even know what I’m about, never mind complete strangers wanting answers.
Sleep on it, I thought. Come up with a fail-safe reason to turn this down in the nicest possible way.
I’m not the most eloquent bod off paper. It’s one of the reasons I write. So, for me, being asked to perform, even in a room no bigger than a kitchen-diner (well, maybe a bit), was on a par with standing naked in the Albert Hall with everybody pointing. Feel the fear (you know the rest), my partner said, but I was having none of it. Mind firmly made up, I went to bed.
Next day, I emailed my response.
If I was billed as the newbie, baby, novice writer… so as not to get anyone’s hopes up, then…maybe I’d do it.
Where did that come from?
Well – down in the deepest darkest corner of my subconscious, I knew I had no choice. If I wanted to be a big grown-up writer, I’d have to kick Nervous Nelly to the kerb.
In the weeks beforehand I practised my bestest reading out loud.
“Louder!” said Elaine.
I practised reading slowly.
“Slower!” Elaine said.
Font magnified to see-it-from-the-moon-size, tons of white space as a reminder to breathe – I placed my comfort blanket of words in a writery folder.
The actual day. Good God, people were turning up – mostly to hear Carol Clewlow, but the poor souls would be forced to listen to me first. Sorry folks. Let’s get this over with as quickly as possible (oh no you don’t, you’ll read slowly).
So, I read in my loudest, slowest voice. Yes, my kneecaps were anxious and all my saliva nipped off on a last-minute city break. At one point, there was even an out of body experience (this isn’t really you speaking, yes, it is, no it’s not), but…but…but – I got through it, and at the end, lovely audience members came up for a chat. I couldn’t believe they’d been listening. And some even had questions I could answer!
So, cheers Elaine, for the kick in the pants. And to any other writers out there in need of a swift boot up the backside (administered with patience and encouragement, of course) – Elaine Cusack’s your woman.
L.A. Craig (Lisa, when she’s not being all writery) is a writer based in Whitley Bay. She received a New Fiction Bursary from the Northern Writers’ Awards in 2014 for her children’s novel, Hosannas and Sleeping Bags, and her short story Flour Baby was broadcast on Radio 4 the following year.
Lisa is currently working on her second children’s novel and has recently been signed by Jane Willis at United Agents.