No Voice, No Tech… No Problem!
Being asked to speak on stage, in front of a few hundred authors, is a pretty nerve-jangling experience. For a start, word nerds are the most likely to object to split infinitives. It is a fair bet that many of them will be unimpressed by a tone that is too informal. They’re a tough crowd. As I knew that my subject matter – ePublishing – did not lend itself to an over-formal register, I had a few moments of panic as I prepared.
As my moment on stage loomed, I comforted myself with the thought that I had appeared on stage in front of far larger audiences, and managed to calm my butterflies. Of course, after the talk, I was due to speak on a panel of experts. This panel would include the Publisher and Editor of the bestselling magazine for writers in the UK; and it would also include one of the UK’s leading Publishers, Alan Samson. No pressure, then. In truth, I was so freaked out about that part of the day that I simply did not prepare for it. Improvisation and British grit were the tools I planned to use. As it turns out, that was probably the best plan. There is no way to prepare for a Q&A session. You simply have to blag it.
So, I made my way to Derbyshire. It took six hours. It would have taken half that time, but I had chosen to hand over all responsibility for navigation to my phone. Not wise. It ran out of batteries in the last hour. I was in the middle of nowhere, with the night sucking light from the sky, when the fuel light clicked on.
I kept driving straight. Any other option would have made me even more lost. My eyes began to close. My stomach growled like an angry cat. Emergency chocolate kept my own fuel light from activating. If only it could do the same for the car. Finally, I spotted a pub I had seen when looking at the satellite view on Google Maps a few weeks before. We are in the future now. I drove from my memory of a virtual journey down the road. At last, I found it.
Fifty Shades of Grey
The following night, I was due to have drinks with a group of people, including the Publisher, Alan Samson. I’m self-published by choice, so the usual nerves that Publisher-Groupies experience don’t apply to me, and yet … are we socially programmed to be scared of specific groups of people, like senior royals, and publishers? I felt a little wary. This lasted for a full second when I met Alan. He’s a sweetheart. The rest of the night was raucous in an entirely nerdy way. All conversations returned to Fifty Shades of Grey. Double entendre tennis caused great hilarity. You won’t get any more details than that. Prince Harry knows that what happens in Vegas stays on Google, YouTube, and everywhere else. What happens in the bar at Swanwick, however, stays at Swanwick.
Kiss Me, Honey
What’s the worst thing that can happen to a speaker? That’s right. They wake up on the morning of a talk, with no voice. A bug had claimed some victims at Swanwick, just as it had all over the country. If you’re in England and you haven’t caught it yet, stock up on lemon and honey. It’s mean! It’s not a very complex bug, and it serves up its hellishness in three acts.
ACT ONE: The throat. Oh, the agony.
ACT TWO: The cough. Appears at night and is horrendous. Disappears in the daylight hours. It’s vampiric.
ACT THREE: The snuffles. Doesn’t last long, but expect sneezing, eyes running, and general cold-like nastiness.
Of course, the painkillers I use had just changed their formulation. I have allergies, and didn’t want to risk taking something that could spark a reaction, so I weathered the germ-storm without pain killers. All I had were some lemons, some chamomile tea, and a pot of honey.
When I awoke on the morning of the event, without a voice, I realised that my Powerpoint presentation was not the top priority. I texted the organisers that the tech set up would have to wait. If that meant I had no visual presentation, so be it. The one bit of technology that I needed, for the talk to go ahead, was a voice. I had no voice. Next, I set to work on reviving my throat. Pure lemon juice mixed with honey went down first. After that, hot lemon and honey. Finally, chamomile and honey. My voice returned.
To be continued …
(Part 2 is here: join-rebecca.com/epublishing)