Still thinking ...
And fascinated and informed by people's responses. My own instincts on this are becoming clearer and I'll post again once I've thought a little longer. Thank you to all contributors for helping explore a fascinating topic
Meantime I am focused on Kendal, where I shall be performing on 22 September.
I've been to Kendal before, although not to the Lit Up Festival, and I know some of the folk I'll be working with up there, which is great. It's still very scary though. Performance IS frightening. And even though I'm what they call 'seasoned' now, I try to be professional and disciplined and to work through the story I'll be reading every day for a week or so, taping myself, listening to what sounds good and what doesn't, getting used to the pace of the work and putting in little bits of 'business', as actors say.
The thing is, people are paying to hear me. That's not something that often enters my mind when I'm writing. Although podcasts etc, mean writing for audio is increasingly part of my portfolio, it's not usually me that's performing the work and that makes a hell of a difference.
I've led meetings of 500 people, presented to 800 senior executives over a New York breakfast and spoken in the boardrooms of Shell and Nike - but reading fiction aloud is much scarier. When I led, presented or spoke as a professional, it wasn't MY words, it wasn't MY psyche that was out there - it was a collaborative effort that had been built with the help of people I respected and admired and so I had absolute confidence in what I did - Mike Peirce and John Sabapathy, if you're out there; you were the architects of some brilliant work, I've never forgotten how good it felt to take your ideas to an audience - but when it's fiction, the audience is looking at the inside of my head and the chambers of my heart - so I think my fear is fully justified.
Fortunately I've done enough live performance to know that I'm going to love it on the day, that I shall be fine when it comes to the moment I start to speak, and that an audience is one of the loveliest big beasts a person can ever hope to meet.
But just for now, I'm in shaking and throwing up mode ... and your good wishes would be appreciated!