Despite popular opinion, being an author is more than merely sitting in coffee shops and eavesdropping on the conversations of nervous, highly-caffeinated people. (Though it is a fair amount of that…)
The secret second-half of this whole author gig is being a public speaker.
Basically an author is a motivational speaker, of sorts, that tries to get people excited about character, setting, and punctuation – which can be a tough sell…but I love it.
I’d say that’s pretty cool, as far as jobs go.
Visiting schools helps me stay connected with not only readers and writers, but with my own ideas. I usually leave with a thought or two that will hopefully end up in future stories.
About ten years ago I came to Chicago planning on making it big in the improv comedy world. I had thoughts of being the next Tina Fey or Steve Carell. That, ah, didn’t happen.But what did happen was an introduction into the world of first-person storytelling. What is that, exactly?
It’s whatever you want to call it:
The stuff that’s on ‘The Moth.’
Some form of un-licensed, free public therapy.
It’s basically people telling their favorite and most cherished stories to rooms full of (mostly) patient and eager strangers.
Those shows sharpened my skills and made me understand things like:
-sweat management (Bombing is natural and healthy for all performers. Bomb early, bomb often! It’s good to get a few of those out of the way.)
While I didn’t know it at the time, telling stories in Chicago prepared me for things like Skype visits with book clubs and Facebook live chats.
Being on stage has made it easier for me to nervously speak to my computer, alone, for about 40 uninterrupted minutes.
And since most people reading my books are probably smarter than me, most visits end with me asking them about their new favorite reads and hearing about what they love about writing.
As humans we all get to share in the power of story, and I’ve been trying my best to create a school visit that urges students to think differently about the stories/movies/books they love.
I try and let students know those cherished stories were once ideas in an author’s brain…until they got to work.
And so, all this is to say: if you or someone you know can think of an elementary school in need of an author visit, preferably in or around the Chicago area, please send an email to [email protected] and I’d love to see if we can make it happen.Until then – keep reading and writing!