One Cure for Stage Fright

Last Saturday night I gave the first in a series of public readings from my non-fiction memoir, Sometimes I See You. I was nervous, but thinking about the questions I had to answer to get the million dollar insurance policy that protected the Sebastopol Center for the Arts facility from damage had an amazing calming effect.

Did I plan to offer “mechanical rides?”
How about “a moon bounce? A rock climbing wall? Trampolines or similar rebounding devices?”
Was I considering a “petting zoo or animal rides?”
Would there be “firearms?” “Fireworks?”
What about “overnight camping?”
“Dunk tanks?”
“Water hazards?”
“Jet Skiing?”

Memoir Author Reading

I wrote on the form that my plan was to stand quite still, read aloud from my book and answer questions from an audience seated on folding chairs. There would be no more than 40 persons, few of whom would be under 60 years old. We would serve one platter of cracker-sized pre-sliced cheeses from Costco, along with 3 bottles of Balletto Zinfandel and a basket of Costco ancient grains crackers. We would use paper plates, paper napkins and plastic cups. I decided not to mention the wooden toothpicks I’d brought so folks could stab the cheese slices. No point in arousing the suspicions of an underwriter.
The evening was great! I enjoyed a very receptive, engaged audience and even got my damage deposit back.

And now, as I start to plan the next reading, I find myself wondering just what it would be like to have a dunk tank . . .

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Non-Fiction Memoir Book Reading and Radio Distraction

Maybe I put radio on too high a pedestal.

These days, I listen a lot to National Public Radio and Pacifica.  Both of these networks feature shows that interview writers and I’m always impressed with how sophisticated and confident these folks sound.  Later this month, I’ll kick off a series of public readings from my new non-fiction memoir, Sometimes I See You.  Of course I’m proud to have the opportunity to share my work, but at the same time I worry.  I worry that nobody will show up. I worry that if people do show up they won’t like what I’ve chosen to read or that I won’t be able to answer their questions.  I compare myself with the writers I hear on the radio and come up short.

It’s neurotic, but it nags at me.

Non-Fiction Memoir AuthorAs a kid, I couldn’t get enough radio.  There were all the cowboy, detective and science fiction shows like Suspense, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tom Mix, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, Flash Gordon, The Green Hornet, Have Gun Will Travel, The Shadow, Bulldog Drummond, and Boston Blackie.  Most of these were on evenings or weekends.  When I’d stay home sick from school and was tired of reading, I’d listen to the day-time soap operas such as Just Plane Bill; Ma Perkins; One Man’s Family; Our Gal Sunday; or The Romance of Helen Trent.  Then there were comedies:  Jack Benny; Red Skelton; You Bet Your Life with Grouch Marx; Fred Allen; George Burns and Gracie Allen; and Archie.  And, there were kids’ shows (Let’s Pretend, Buster Brown, the Sunday Comics) and the quiz shows and . . . it goes on and on.

In my teens, radio was all about music.  KFWB, Los Angeles . . . Channel 98! was my station as I carried my new transistor radio around West LA or lay with it on the beach at Santa Monica.

Radio still has power over me.  Shows like This American Life; Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me; Fresh Air; and Snap Judgment are favorites.

Now that I’ve taken my mind off the first reading of my new memoir, I wonder what’s on?

Is radio an important part of your life?  Do you have fond memories of radio shows from your childhood?