Stage Fright

I’ve got a bout of stage fright.

I’ve done some performing. An early interest in shameless showing off led to drama camps and school plays when I was a teenager. Followed by various different trips to the Edinburgh Festival, to sleep on floors and play to audiences of 3 as a student. I even thought I wanted to be a stand up comic at one point.

Although I came to realise that this was in NO WAY what I was best equipped to do, and gave up public showing off in favour of occasional party outings to a karaoke booth, I never suffered from true stage fright. Butterflies and bouncy excitement yes- but not the paralysing, toilet dashing, sweaty sleepless sort that stops people speaking in public.

Yet here I am, 6 weeks away from the publication of my first book, and -OhYesHello- PROPER nerves are building. Whatever else I’m up to at the moment, thinking about, dreaming about, there is a low level accompanying backing track. It beats out the “But what if they don’t like it?” rhythm (with a bit of snare drum and a light thwack of the cymbals at the end).

This is, I realise, Standard Issue Anxiety for debut authors (non debut too). And I am more fortunate than most, because if I can’t quell anxieties about my words, I can look at Clara Vulliamy’s beautiful, warm and funny pictures in Mango and Bambang and calm down. Surely no-one couldn’t like them??

I know, when I am being sensible, that the answer to “But what if they don’t like it” is a simple, “Never mind”. Not all books can be for all people. And I know that I am the luckiest of the lucky to have a book coming into the world to be nervous about at all. Such sensible thinking doesn’t stop the early-morning-chewed-nail-wake-ups though. I suppose because this ‘performing’ on a page turns out to be more me than the on a stage sort.

Last week Clara and I had to conquer our stage butterflies too as we made a small promotional film about our lovely (IHOPEITHINKBUTOHHELPWHATIFIT’SNOT?)(see what I mean?) book.

It was cake fueled and giggle-inducing fun but hard; to talk sensibly and concisely. Actually it was hard to even get to the end of a sentence without forgetting how it had started. Oh dear. When I see the finished product I know I’m going to be watching it from behind a cushion, like a particularly scary Dr Who episode: Aaagh- my voice! Eurrgh-my face! Who IS this charlatan pretending to be an author? Why has no-one found her out yet?

All I can say is hooray for the school summer holidays. 6 weeks of wrestling adjudication, tree climbing, water sprinkler running and fighting with sticks will help use up nervous energy and keep things in perspective.

Because otherwise- EEK! Exciting but really, surprisingly, EEK.

Polly & Clara_1
Making Mango and Bambang-The Movie. See how terror led me to adopt Documentary Presenter Weird Hand Clasp.
Director Jones
At least Jones the Cat lent a steadying if sceptical directorial presence.

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