Showing posts from November, 2010

Some Public Speaking Tips from a Shy Person Who Has Learned to Love Public Speaking

Some Tips for the Days Leading up to the Speech
PREPARE, PREPARE, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Nothing is more important than this and nothing will make more of a difference. I try to have my speech written at least a few days before I'm giving the speech, and if possible, a week or two.  This gives me lots of time to practice speaking it aloud. With each practice run, I revise the speech a little. And with each practice run, the speech becomes part of my speaking memory and my muscle memory.  I know from experience that if you have practiced often, calmly in your kitchen, the way you want to say a speech, then on the day of the speech, you can shake and jitter your way through that entire speech and still have it come out sounding the way you practiced it, so much so that people will come up to you afterward and tell you that they wished they could be so calm and composed while giving a speech.  (You should probably try not to burst into hysterical laughter when someone says this to y…

Some Yackety-Yacking for Thanksgiving

I wanted to share my acceptance remarks from the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award reception on Monday, but decided to backdate them so they're linkable but won't monopolize your blog readers. My remarks are here. It's basically a short speech about some of the place Fire came from. Also, Blogger, I am not impressed with your jump breaks. Readers, if you thought you saw a rawther long post from me on Tuesday and then it disappeared, I'm sorry about that, it was an experiment gone wrong. Curses!  But.  Hope y'all like the speech.

Also, I wish everyone celebrating Thanksgiving today a peaceful and stress-free time.  One thing I do: every year, I try to buy nothing on Friday.  Turns out that the Friday after Thanksgiving is a really lovely day not to go into any stores.  Try it!  It might be for you.  Actively choosing not to shop on Black Friday makes me feel centered.  Unless I've forgotten to do my grocery shopping beforehand, in which case, it makes me feel hung…

ALAN, Plus the World's Best Stage Directions

This morning I board a plane for Orlando, and late this afternoon, I'll be at NCTE-ALAN, receiving the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for Fire. My parents will be there, and also secret codename: Cordelia! How nice that this event is taking place near a branch of my family!

The other day, in my post about my editor, I mentioned that good editing is invisible, like the world's best stage directions. Giving credit where credit is due: that was my friend Becca's analogy, not mine. And one of the reasons I liked it so much when she said it is that I've recently been encountering what just might be the world's best -- or, at least, the world's most entertaining -- stage directions. Where? In the plays of J.M. Barrie.

Imagine, as a set designer, being given this:
"There is a piece of carpet that has been beaten into nothingness, but is still a carpet, there is a hearth-rug of brilliant rags that is probably gratified when your toes catch in it and you are hurled…

Let's Raise a Glass to Quiet Geniuses

My editor has a particular Grace that I'm often aware of, but can never quite quantify. Here's an example of how it manifests: I send her an email about how I cannot possibly write the book, the book is too much of a mess for me to wrap my head around, the book is eating my brains, I cannot even bear to look at the book, the book is haunting me, the book is threatening me, I am a disgrace, my life as a writer is over, I'm going to take a boat to Antarctica and prostrate myself on a glacier and wait to die like that guy in "To Build a Fire," except not really like him, because at least he was trying to build a fire.

My editor will wait a few beats. Then, she'll send me a very calm email in which she will (1) not point out that I am being melodramatic and maudlin, (2) not tell me to get over myself, (3) not tell me to please stop sending her ridiculous emails because she is an extremely busy person and doesn't have time for this, and (4) gently suggest tha…

Hard Things

Writing is really, really hard right now. I am in a vortex of doubt and I am clinging to a mustard seed.

Writers out there, don't let go of that mustard seed; don't let go of that teeny, tiny shred of faith. I know what you're going through. I know how hard it is, and I know how courageous you are. You can do so much more than you think you can. It never ceases to amaze me but it's true: that teeny little seed of faith is all you need to get yourself through. Just DON'T LET GO.

(Here is the pep talk I wrote for National Novel Writing Month last year, about self-doubt and fear. And here is a longish post I wrote once about fear -- and trapezing, so be warned, there's a trapezing photo there.)

On the subject of making oneself vulnerable, stripping oneself down, sad and difficult things -- everyone needs to go to this section of Regina Spektor's myspace page, click play, and listen to the song "Samson." It's just beautiful. Thank you to my f…

A Few More Things I Love...

...because, well, they just keep rolling in, and I don't feel like waiting for my Monday post.
This cartoon, starring a little fellow many of us know and love. (Look at the cartoon before you click to the little fellow.) Thanks, C.This picture slideshow, 25 photos long, of signs seen at the recent Rally to Restore Sanity. Thanks, Jen.Dance sequences filmed atop moving trains. (From the 1998 movie Dil Se, directed by Mani Ratnam, shot by cinematographer Santosh Sivan, choreographed by Farah Khan, danced by Malaika Arora, Shah Rukh Khan, and team, to the song "Chaiyya Chaiyya.") I find myself hoping that Patrick Swayze saw this before he died. Dirty Dancing fans, don't you think he would have appreciated it?
Tamora Pierce's post in honor of Veteran's Day.Have a good weekend, everyone.

A Few Things I Love

"So, I started hanging out with Rayanne Graff. Just for fun. Just because it seemed like if I didn't I would -- DIE, or something." I love the way the TV show My So-Called Life begins. It's a lesson in writing, actually: Angela is already breaking away from her best friend, Sharon; she's already started hanging out with Rayanne. The show plops us directly into the middle of Angela's new friends, new confusion and new experimentation, Rayanne's dangerous messy life, and Sharon's pain -- rather than showing us the drawn-out saga of Angela and Sharon happy together, then Rayanne luring Angela, then Angela and Sharon splitting up. Writing lesson: jump right into it. Start with the action, start with the meat of the matter, and let any necessary explanations trickle out as you move forward. (For the record, these are not my original thoughts. Thanks to Becca and Jess for the conversation we had about this -- I can't remember which of you point…

And Then, South Bend

In my signing line at Saint Mary's College, a few people expressed surprise that I'd come to South Bend to do an event. The explanation is simple: I have family there. And family tradition: a LOT of people in my paternal family are alums of Notre Dame or Saint Mary's, and a few of them work there. We've actually been planning this event for some time. It even turned into a mini-reunion, with my parents and a few other family members coming to join us :).

Join us to do what? Go to a Notre Dame football game, of course. I won't get into my feelings about college football, which are complicated, nor will I get into my feelings about Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish, which are beyond complicated -- instead, I'll merely report that surrounded by enthusiastic loved ones and by random strangers screaming "Go Irish!," I felt very... well, Irish. And I cheered loudly for Notre Dame, despite all my threats beforehand to cheer for the other team,…

First, Chicago

I've been to many, many art museums, in many different cities, so when people kept telling me that I had to go to the Art Institute while I was in Chicago, part of me kept thinking, Really? Is that really what I want to do with my teeny bit of free time? Wow, I'm so glad I did. I decided just to wander, rather than trying to aim for specific things, because I didn't have a lot of time and running around museums just to see the most famous stuff doesn't really appeal to me. My wanderings, unavoidably, brought me to the main staircase, which is itself an exhibit. A contemporary Indian artist named Jitish Kallat has installed an artwork called "Public Notice 3" along the risers of the 118 steps of the Grand Staircase (this picture explains what I mean). It's the text of a speech about religious tolerance, an actual speech that was delivered by Swami Vivekananda in Chicago on September 11, 1893, 108 years before the 2001 attacks. The speech is beautiful.…

This Week's Monday Post Is Brought to You by (Voting) Tuesday...

... or something.

Vote! Vote! Vote!

So. I have things to blog about Chicago and South Bend, but I'm waiting for a photo, plus, I don't have the brain space at the moment. The reason I don't have the brain space is that, as always upon returning home after a trip, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. My email is overflowing; my snail mail is overflowing; my un-unpacked suitcase is overflowing; my laundry hamper is overflowing; my to-do list is overflowing.... pretty much the only thing that's not overflowing is my refrigerator, which is completely empty. Sigh.... a gal could get stressed out. (And hungry.)

This is why instead of trying to blog about something that takes brains, I'm going to sit here on the couch in my flannel pjs, eat some chocolate, and tell you the library books I have out right now, because even though my library shelf is also overflowing, its overflowingness is of a kind that makes me happy.

All of these are either books that were recommended to me b…