You can know anything. It's all there. You just have to find it.

-Neil Gaiman


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reading lessons

Supposedly this blog is supposed to be about my book and getting published and all that stuff, so I will update some people who are interested about that. Specifically, doing readings and book signings.

When the book first came out last summer, I was set up to do some readings at Barnes and Noble stores. Now, it might sound stupid, but it never occurred to me that I would have to do this. Dumb, I know. I had spent so much time and energy trying to get published, that I never even looked past that point to what would come after. If I had, maybe I wouldn't have done it. Now I am thankful for all the classes where we were required to read aloud. This is good practice, and not something that comes naturally to everyone. In fact, there were several people in some of my creative writing classes who would freeze up when they had to read, but they wanted to be authors and it probably didn't occur to them either that they would some day have to give readings in public.

Apparently, public speaking is the most common fear there is.

Anyway, my first reading went okay. The kids were earnest. I was horribly nervous. I don't know why. Eventually it got a little better.

Then I did some storytimes at the Minneapolis public library. I went to Walker Library first, in a nice neighborhood in Uptown, and had a huge group. The kids were well-behaved, except for one. There is always one. I'll call him "Mouth".

Me (showing the picture of Pancake and Luella): Does anyone know what kind of dog this is?

Kids: A boxer?

Me:'s called a pug. It's a little dog.

Mouth: Dogs are DUMB!

Me: Not this one.
(I think I gave him a look; I don't have a poker face at all. I tried to smile, but I think my true thoughts showed up across my face, which were, Keep it up kiddo and I'll show YOU who's dumb. Mature, I know.)

Me: (pointing to Luella) And what is this?

Kids: A duck!

Me: That's right. Today I'm going to tell you a story about this dog and duck.

Mouth: Dogs EAT ducks!

Good Lordy! At this point, someone tells him to shut it.

In ten years this kid will have a probation officer; will anyone be surprised?

Then I went to the Franklin Library a few weeks later, which people who are familiar with the city of Minneapolis, know it is not in the best neighborhood. I will have to say, though, every single kid was polite and well-behaved. But you could tell the different kind of life experience and knowledge these kids had when I asked them the same question:

Me: What kind of dog is this?

Several boys shout out: A PITBULL!

oh my....

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