So, speaking in front of people is a thing I do now.
For instance, earlier this month I was down in Portland, for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association tradeshow. I spoke at the “Kids’ Table” dinner event, with some awesome other writers: Matthew Holm (“Sunny Side Up”), Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson (“Leo: A Ghost Story”), and Judy Schachner (“Dewey Bob”). All of whom, by the way, were amazing. I had to be pretty good just to keep up, especially since, of all the speakers, I was the only one with nothing prepared. Everyone else had visuals. I just stood up and talked.
And as far as I can tell, I absolutely killed. (In a good way. It’s weird that that word means that in this context.) Afterwards I got asked if I was a standup comic. I’m not, although maybe I could have been, on the lucrative “bookseller tradeshow” circuit.
After that I was determined to actually finish the powerpoint presentation thingy I had been working on for a while. The idea was always to promote my book at schools. This week, I finally got the chance: I was invited to appear at Meeker Middle School in Tacoma. And they sort of rolled out the red carpet for me, or at least put up some very nice signs.
And I had a great time with the kids. There were some awkward speed bumps, mostly stemming from it being the first time I’d ever done this. I had forgotten to ask if they had AV equipment I could use for my presentation, a fact I encountered only partway through (I was there for hours and spoke to like four groups of kids), so in the beginning I was sort of struggling to make it work with just me drawing on a whiteboard. But it picked up once I got my presentation working, and I was narrating the story of my career, from weird art I did at 4 (“Captain Hook Made Peter Pan Shrink And Now He’s Trying To Make The Spinach Disappear”) through the strip I did in 6th grade (“Skippy”) and on to “Ozy and Millie,” and then Comic Strip Superstar, and finally, to Phoebe and Her Unicorn. I think the point I’m mostly making is that if you love doing something, there’s a lot of value in persistence. Kids had questions, and I loved answering them.
That was a really good experience. And I have some ideas now about how to make it better for the next time.