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Respecting the Work: A Discipline

Posted on 26 July 2012


My first reading after the book came out was at Wiscon, the feminist spec fic conference. It was in a conference room of a hotel and it went very well. I kept my pacing consistent, I was calm, and read in a stable voice. In fact, the reading convinced a bunch of people to go to the dealer’s room and buy Ancient, Ancient.

My second reading was at a local bar lounge in Brooklyn. I was wired, a handful of my friends were there. We were outdoors and I was distracted from the noise flying around. My reading was disjointed at best. Later my friend said it seemed like I wanted to hang out more than I wanted to read. There might be some truth to that, I wanted to socialize or at least talk. But hearing her say that reminded me that if I’m having a reading, people are coming to hear me read. They want to hear my work. My work is not me. My talent is not me. They are not coming just to see or hear me do whatever.

It reminded me of two other occasions: one in a self-development workshop and another at a concert. In both cases the star of the evening rambled on, amusing themselves as part of their presentation. As an audience member I remember thinking to myself: just do the song, or just share the information you’ve come to share. I’m not here to sit at your feet and learn more about your personality or be part of your personal fan horde.

I realize that I was being selfish to a certain extent. If it’s a reading, I should be reading. I shouldn’t invite people to a reading and then just want to talk. I should be willing to subvert myself and my own mood to my work and serve my work as my work needs to be served at any given point in time.

I’m grateful to my friend for commenting. She didn’t say much, but it doesn’t take much to read between the lines. I will be more aware at my upcoming appearances about who or what should be in the spotlight. As always, it’s not about me, it’s about the work. I am here to serve my work and when I do, I’m in the flow and something larger than me can come through and connect with my listeners. If I just serve myself, my reach is limited. Head down, surrender, and do what the work/my voice asks me to do.