It’s just very odd. I’m not exactly a shy and retiring type, scuttling away from the limelight, but it’s a question of what you’re doing up there. Crooning into a microphone after a few shandies, tap dancing in a french maid outfit and performing disco moves while dressed up as Wonder Woman; all these things have formed my stage experience to date. But I’ve never had people read something I’ve written on a large scale. In any type of performance, there’s a certain element of self-congratulation, as if you in some way deserve the audience. If this is something that is considered to be an inherent ‘talent,’ it makes that experience even more personal, as it becomes an innate part of ‘you’ that is presented as special, important, and worthy of note. I always found this a little ironic as a singer, as if saying you could sing were some kind of arrogant claim, rather than the musical slog it is as with any other instrument. Assertions that you can play the flute are not met with quite as much affront and assumptions that you are somehow telling everyone you’re better than them.
The only other thing I can equate it with is the one and only time I performed a piano piece at a concert. This was alien territory; a skill to which I had not yet subjected a critical view. I don’t think I have ever felt so nervous or self-conscious. My fingers went all rubbery and it was a huge task to get the notes in the right order. The crafting of sentences feels very similar. Something I have always dabbled in, even shared with friends and family, but never to the general public with a stamp on it that says it is in some way worthy of their recognition. I only told a handful of people at the time, even though I was very excited, but felt reticent about sharing it with the wider world. Only after a few ales did I feel the courage to share my news with Facebook. Even then, it sounded self-congratulatory, and I have been insistent on playing it down, as an online magazine it doesn’t constitute anything particularly lofty and at a mere 1000 words it’s a way to go to the first novel. Those who knew me best realised the huge personal achievement it was, no matter how small. The next steps will be tough, and I have to face the fact that, in the current publishing climate, reaching the moment when my first book is actually in print may never happen. Nice to know I’ve made a little baby step along the way, though.