Monday, August 15, 2011

Back on the road again...

Well, like many other children's authors, I am gearing up for several solid weeks of school talks around Melbourne and interstate, everywhere from Pakenham to Geelong, Ballarat to Ipswich. I love visiting schools, especially when I get to meet my young readers or test out my ideas on a ready audience, but I do find it exhausting. To me, giving 'author talks' is more like doing a performance, and at most schools I'll do three or four in a row. Often my audience is very young so to keep the littlies entertained I find myself contorting my voice and face into so many different expressions that by the end of the day my voice has diminished into a raspy squeak and even my face hurts and I am wondering how on earth Justine Clarke makes it look so easy.
There was a time when I was younger and more sprightly (in the Olden Days) when I seemed to have limitless energy and would do school talks all throughout the year, whenever my booking agency asked me to. However it eventually got to the stage where I was spending more time talking about what I do than actually getting it done, so now I try to limit my public speaking gigs to one solid block around Book Week and do them all in one go.
I also do this because I am finding it harder and harder to change gears from my outward extroverted performer self to that quiet introverted self I need to create. Sometimes, even if I know I have a public speaking event in a week I have set aside to work on a book, I can often sense an underlying hum of agitation that stops me from completely losing myself in my work.
Having said all this I am also terribly grateful for all my school bookings and public speaking gigs because for many years they have provided the butter to put on my family's bread. Those writing books that describe the 'perfect writing life' are quite laughable really: A log cabin in the woods, long uninterrupted days with a glass of red wine and an intelligent adult conversation in the evenings before settling back down to work. I can only suppose that these people have very rich patrons and definitely no children because I certainly don't know any writers who have that kind of life. Even the most 'successful' ones. In fact the most successful writers I know, men and women, have worked the hardest and often juggled all kinds of things to be able to create a writing space for themselves. These are the writers who inspire me the most.


  1. Drop by before you leave, sally, and I shall have some sandwiches and cake for you. Oh, and a map to make sure you find your way home! jxx

  2. Thanks Jen, that sounds delightful. x

  3. Sally, what you say is so true for me, too; it's lovely meeting the readers, but it takes you to such a different brain space, I don't know if anyone is able to do both the writing, and the talking about the writing in the same dimension.