Fight or Flight – It was a close run thing!

Conscious of the fact that, at the time of writing, in less than two weeks I will have to speak in front of an audience at Love A Happy Ending’s Summer Audience about my progress as a writer and getting published, I decided to write this post in two parts. The Before and The After.

The Before – 3rd June

I know that writing a novel is only the half of it.  There’s far more to writing than, well, just writing.

If I were to make a list it would include things like, sales, promotion, people skills, business management, time management, IT skills and marketing, to name but a few.  On the whole I think I could do most of those things from the safety of my laptop – hidden behind the keyboard – by way of emails, blog posts, Facebook and Twitter messages.  However, I am fully aware that talking to an audience isn’t one of those laptop deals.

In all honesty, the thought terrifies me. Me, on my own, stood up in front of group of people, talking about my novel and answering questions – Blimey, I feel sick at the thought. Last time I did this sort of thing, I forgot to breathe and sounded like Norman Collier doing his broken microphone routine.  On a bad day I’m not sure if I can do it, on a good day I think, well I’ve stood up and spoken to a class full of secondary school children, surely I can chat to adults.

I have practiced reading to my dog – she walked off.  At this point it is not looking good and I’m off to invest heavily in ‘Rescue Remedy’.

The After – 19th June

So the day arrived and I still wasn’t convinced I would be able to do it – the ‘Rescue Remedy’ wasn’t really living up to its name.

Lou Graham book reviewer

Before my solo stint, I was scheduled in to do a joint presentation with Lou Graham about book reviewing.  We had deciced that Lou would lead this and gently ease me into the conversation by asking me a few questions.  That, I felt I could cope with.  We were very lucky that on the day Kim Nash came along and, as she is also a book reviewer for Love A Happy Ending, it seemed only natural to get Kim to come up on stage too. I was going for the safety in numbers approach.

I got the nod from Lou and the three of us approached the stage. As I put my foot on the first step, I felt physically sick but knew there was no going back. I wasn’t quite sure how my  Usane Bolt like exit from the hall would be explained.

All I can say is, thank goodness for Lou. She was great ‘chairing’ the presentation and for the most part it was just like having a chat with friends.  I even forgot that Jill Mansell and Catrin Collier were there. At one point I thought my nerves might get the better of me, but I managed to get through it all without hyperventilating and needing to breathe into a paper bag.

So what of my solo stint? The workshops and talks had been such a success, by mid-afternoon it was clear we would run over time. A quick survey of the authors planning to read was carried out – did anyone want to volunteer not to do their presentation.  I’m good at volunteering!   In hindsight, am I glad I didn’t do my five minute reading? If I’m honest, yes.  I’m not 100% convinced I would have been able to do it.  However, I do feel I took a small step forward by doing a joint presentation with Lou and Kim.

I think my dog may have to put up with me a little longer as I practice for next time.

Has anyone else been in that sort of situation? Were you nervous? How did you get over your nerves?

Love A Happy Ending Authors and Reviewers

19 thoughts on “Fight or Flight – It was a close run thing!

  1. Well done you for facing your fears and going for it. Fear is a unique emotion, sometimes it’s not until we are faced with a situation head on that we recognise we are afraid of it. For me that was getting into a floatation tank and discovering pulling the lid down totally freaked me out and I didn’t trust the internal switches at all!

    I’ve not been in your position at all with a Q&A on stage, I’d love to be one day, but I have done readings of the opening chapter of Gunshot Glitter at a gig, album launch and also been asked to speak at a few well-attended events in another capacity. The thing that gets me through them is knowing people have chosen to be there, want to hear me and if I my brain goes blank and does a runner, I have a VERY reassuring piece of paper to read off as back up!!

    • Thanks Yasmin, what were you doing in a flotation tank in the first place? I’m just trying to weigh up which I would prefer – flotation tank or speaking? The latter is still coming runner up. I might just try having a few notes to hand next time.


      • I thought it’d be relaxing! It was meant to be exercise in chilling out at the London Floatworks, but all I could think was ‘this door could come down, never open again, they might forget I’m here. OH GOD I’M GOING TO DIE!!’ So that pod door stayed mostly open. I tried to shut it a dozen times, but lasted approx 30 seconds before I was scrambling for that ‘open’ button. It’s that winning combo of being a control freak and mistrust : ) I was bummed, I’d wanted to do it for ages but had no idea I’d feel that way about it.

        But yes, notes! Notes are aces and your friend. I recommend having a few at hand at least to keep you on track, there’s no harm done in having them as a wee prop.

  2. Well done. I think you are wonderful to have overcome your fears and terrors the way you did! And now you’ve done it!! Wonderful! 🙂 x

  3. Wow – you did brilliantly! And all those famous people too. Very impressive, especially as there may have been sick involved. Glad you got over the nausea – that sort of thing lingers in people’s minds – throwing up over an audience is never good. (Just a tip there.)
    Well done, brave Mme Fortin – next time you’ll be so confident you’ll be knocking the others out of the way with a big stick so you can have your turn to read.

    Celia xxx

    • Lovely Celia, making me laugh as always. Now my imagination is running riot with what might have been!

  4. I think you should feel very proud, Sue. I know how much courage you mustered for this.
    I’m proud of you and look forward to sharing a Romaniac platform with you 🙂 And I’m with Celia on the sick thing – never a good look.
    Well done 🙂 xx

    • Oh no Laura, I forgot we’ve got to do something similar at the Festival of Romance later this year. Can I start worrying now?

      I could write a new book ‘Diary of a Wimpy Author’


  5. You did extremely well, Sue, and see what you’ve done now – you’ve tempted me out of my criminal activities to visit the romaniacs site. I’d be more comfortable on a Jack the Ripper site. I wish you had done your reading I would have loved to hear it. Oh, and a wee tip from me when talking to an audience – don’t think of them as an audience – think of them as a big group of friends you met down the pub and just chat with them. Works for me!

  6. Just wait until I tell the others at LAHE that you’ve been here!

    You were brilliant Chris, I wish I had your ease on the stage, plus your lovely accent :0)

    Thanks for the tip, friends, not audience, I shall try and remember that.


  7. Sue, I can definitely identify with you and think it’s great that you dipped your toe in, so to speak, by being part of the group presentation. My nerves would have been jangling off the Richter Scale! I can remember having to speak for two minutes about myself and my role at the time, during one of those team building days. It felt like two DAYS!

    Well done you! I bet everyone loved you 🙂
    Jan x x

  8. Hi Sue
    I enjoyed the readings so much – a quiet moment for the audience in a busy day – I wish there had been more, including yours of course!
    Now you are an old hand at being on stage – maybe next time? 😉
    Ali B

    • Hi Ali, glad you enjoyed the readings, everyone did so well and it was great to see you there.

  9. Hi Sue,
    Those nerves are a bummer, aren’t they? I actually have a little tip I got from a professional presenter (who suffered from severe angst whenever she stepped on-stage. Strange choice of profession one would think …) What she had discovered was that it’s all in the stance. If you stand up straight, knees about a fist and a half apart and then clench your buttocks tight, “something” happens. She had concluded that by doing this she looks more self-assured, and therefore she feels much more self-assured. I’ve tried it a couple of times, and it does help – a lot. But I have no idea why!

  10. Oh, Sue, you do make me smile. You are so genuine and lovely! The thing to remember, as Yasmin says, is that people really want to hear what you have to say. They wouldn’t be there otherwise – and if you are bit shy, you’d be surprised how people can relate to that and be really encouraging. I got over my fear (and I really was at hyperventilating stage) by reading over and over and recording as I went. A good tip is to choose a face in the audience (remembering to scan the audience, too, occasionally) and talk as if you addressing one person. It works for me. You did really, really well, btw! Look forward to seeing you at the next bash! 🙂 xx

  11. Thank you Sheryl you were so supportive of me last Saturday – you’re such a professional. I’ll get there in the end, I expect.


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