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Talk about the Passion (or, The amateur public speaker)

One of the unexpected (by me) side-effects of becoming a writer was that suddenly there were a few people out there who became interested in what I had to say about writing.

I honestly hadn't ever anticipated this: when I was younger writers were semi-mythic beings, names on the spines of books who had something special, had somehow won the right to have their dreams and ideas put into print and were making a fortune. They certainly weren't real human beings, and most certainly weren't anywhere nearby, or someone you could conceivably meet. This was reinforced by the fact that New Zealand didn't really have any fantasy writers of note back then. Our writers were serious-looking people writing about real-world issues I had no interest in: I didn't want to read about love and culture clashes and other such worthy things - I wanted dragons and swords and wizards!

Still do, mostly.

So, roll forward a - ahem - largish number of years, and here I am with my name on the spine of 14 books, and I'm getting the occasional invite (and I do mean occasional: quite sensibly people are still more interested in real world problems than wizards and their ilk) to go and talk about being a writer.

It's very flattering and actually quite fun.

There are a number of reasons I enjoy it. One is that I've done some public speaking before, while employed in financial services industry, so while I wouldn't say I'm a TED talk candidate, I am relaxed about doing it, and can be reasonably entertaining on a good day (I'm told).

Secondly, as I spend most of my working day on my own with my most current group of imaginary friends, getting the chance to go out and talk to real people is quite a novelty: a stimulating and necessary respite from spending my time recording made-up events in places that don't exist.

Thirdly, I get to talk about what I'm passionate about, which is being able to turn ideas and fantasies into a kind of reality. I think creativity is one of the big things that makes us human. Ideas envisaged and turned into reality is what we do, and part of what we are. It's a wonderful thing that writing is such an accessible field. You don't have to learn a difficult and exacting musical instrument, or be born with a voice and train it to perfection, or learn to use complex tools, techniques or technologies. You "just" write. I'm not saying it's easy - it's not, communication is hard - but it's very accessible.

In any given writer's audience there are likely people who if they chose to, could make a success of bringing their own stories into reality. I think it's to those people that I always feel like I'm talking when I do a public appearance. The main message is the one I wish I'd received earlier in my life (had I ever gone to listen to a writer speak): if you think you can do it, that's half the battle: now try it and find out. Put yourself on the line. Don't die wondering. The worst that can happen - rejection - is not so bad. I've been through it, and so have most people. It doesn't kill you, and might just make you stronger.

If you're going to Bookrapt in Tauranga this Saturday, see you there. Ali Teo and Mandy Hagar are there also, and though I don't know Ali, I do know Mandy and she's excellent to listen to. If you do make it, please say 'hi'.


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