Friday, September 28, 2012

Performance Art

On Tuesday, there was an event in Brampton. I was asked to do the author's introduction and a brief Q & A. Honestly, I was so tried and I'd crashed so hard after running on adrenaline for the past three weeks trying to do all the things and see all the people. But I said yes. Because when someone asks you if you want to interview an author you admire about a book you love, you say yes without hesitation or any thought to what shape that interview might take or maybe what you should ask. You say yes. You show up and you give as much as you can, because the author and the audience deserve it.

When you're part of the show—and even from the stage, I could tell it was a show—you have different experience than when you're watching it. What's it like to interview someone in front 200 people?

Terrifying; it's like hurtling towards imminent doom without certainty that you're going to find the brakes in time while people watch. And wondrous, because in the midst of the terror it all becomes impossibly real. It is the most present, the most fully there a person can be. Maybe you won't remember what you said or you'll only remember the gaffes you made and wonder what your face was doing—because there cameras and such—but at that moment, it's all happening and it doesn't matter.

But if you should ever be asked to interview anyone in front of...any number of people, these are things I would've done differently if given the option:

1) Said yes when I was asked if I needed to eat something, and y'know...ate something.
2) Attempted to be at least half as caffeinated as the person I was interviewing. I still might not have been able to keep up, but I'd have at least felt like I was.

Basically, take care of yourself if you are in a situation like this—and let other people who offer take care of you, too. It is always worth it, but it is always work. That is not to imply that I don't enjoy doing it—I really do. It reminds what this is all about, the communication, the interaction. But the performance requires energy and preparation. It is not easy for me to be that extroverted.

Talking to someone, I realized there's this thing many of us do in these situations. We go into what I've always called it panel mode.) It's this outward calm, cool state of being incredibly present wrapped around a nervous oh god oh god oh god don't screw this up for all these nice people that you hope isn't shining in your eyes. It's living in a hyper-real dream, and it fades upon waking. But it doesn't diminish that it happened or what it meant.

I'm very grateful for the run of opportunities that writing The Tarot Cafe Novel brought to my life, and I'm grateful for the ones that my job has given me access to. But what I'm most grateful for is how these experiences have taught me what I'm comfortable doing, and also how far and how often I can push beyond that comfort zone when it matters.

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