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You talk too much….

by on June 15, 2014

As regular readers will be aware, It’s been quite a while since I actually wrote a blog post on here myself. About myself, and what’s going on. As you know, I’ve been pretty busy with trying to manage being quite ill earlier in the year, the constant need to do some promotion, writing some new material and working on the release of my first book aimed at children, and the parents/grandparents who love reading aloud to them.

Well, Snort and Wobbles is nearly done now: the ebook is out and getting some nice reviews, and the real book (oh, sorry, I’m not supposed to call it that am I? The trendy term is ‘Dead Tree Book’, with an underlying note of disapproval or scorn. Personally, if I were a tree, being re incarnated in a book would be wonderful. I mean, you might get the Daily Mail, might you not? I suppose for a tree, that’s our equivalent of an interesting encounter with the demonic hordes of Hades and their various torments. Imagine still having some sentience, and knowing Paul Dacre was writing on YOU. That would be a living nightmare.) is almost out – I’m just waiting for the proof copies to arrive, and soon after that it will be good to go.

Anyway, over the last few months, promotion has slipped a bit whilst I’ve been busy at all this. And my social life, never very active or full on, has become an anti social life instead. Something had to give, and for that everyone has to curse my otherwise amazing friend, Carol Wyer. Boo, hiss, etc etc etc.

Why? Carol is not just a lovely person and skilled – and funny – writer who shares the same publisher that I do: she’s a whiz at marketing. She’s been on TV (real TV too, not one of those strange channels that only broadcast for three hours when they hope no one but the advertisers is actually watching), broadcasts on radio, and does tours of libraries and places both making people laugh and selling her books. Now, this is why things are her fault. You see, she’s been encouraging me to start doing what are, I believe, called ‘Speaking engagements’.

Now, I understand why my editor would approve of this. It would save her the chore of wearing out her ‘delete’ button as she searches and destroys the commas I am accustomed to scatter around the page with freedom and abandon. Well, they are free, aren’t they? It’s not like I have to pay per comma, so a man has to have a hobby. Bite me. Sorry, where was I? Oh. Yes. Carol has been encouraging me to try this odd new hobby, and after my friend Ron chose to put on a multi-art exhibition to include both music and the spoken word, I succumbed to temptation and gave it a go.

Hence, one day last week, I found myself sitting in a shop window in Swansea (The Creative Bubble Arts Center), armed with nothing more than a microphone, and the material in The Banned Underground. And something strange happened. People laughed. Now, I’m used to being laughed at, usually for my dress sense. Or odd hats. Or occasionally muttering to myself as I walk down a street. (I know I’m trying to remember the lines I’ve just written in my head, but passers-by don’t have access to that information.) But here, people were laughing at the material. I am aware that readers find my stuff funny. Just as well really, because when I tried to write seriously I was a complete failure. Trying to be funny has upgraded me to a partial failure, so that’s progress, right? Anyway, I discovered what Carol was really trying to tell me, and what one of my other friends (the lovely M T McGuire – you saw her new release promoted on this blog earlier this week) has known for some time: Doing stand up comedy is an enormous buzz.

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I’ve always vaguely envied my friend Ron, in some way. You see, he’s a musician. He can stand in front of an audience in a pub, and judge how good his set was by the audience reaction. It’s immediate feedback. But we who write, well feedback is much less immediate isn’t it? There is the (normal) total indifference of our friends and family: the usual praise from our writing friends, and sometimes reviews from our customers on Amazon. But it’s all a bit third hand, isn’t it? We get excited by 5* reviews: Ron gets excited when his audience clap and cheer, and ask for more, and it’s instant. Well, that’s what stand up gives, too. Instant reaction. The buzz from telling a gag and actually seeing someone crack up is great! Now, I’ll admit I didn’t exactly have a big audience. And some of them left when their bus came. But still, it was a great experience, and I know – like any other legal high – I’d like to experience it again. It’s a great way to know that the material I’m writing actually works.

So this week ends with an exhortation to my fellow scribblers out there: try standing up and talking about your books. You might die on your feet (Ron provided me with a shop window the size of a coffin just in case that happened), but you might just have an astonishing experience.

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5 Comments
  1. Ah no, once you’ve done it, you’ll be hooked. Which reminds me, I must sort out a talk at my local library and tell the local press about the book… and the next one. Will, you do loads of stuff and I’m forever in awe of the amount you get done… on top of having to do what Terry Pratchett calls ‘real work’ as well.

    Cheers

    MTM

  2. Thanks, MTM. As ever, you are too kind.

  3. Great post, Chris! Very funny…and wry….and all that I have come to expect of the Story-Reading Ape….love, Mira

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