A Writer or an Author?
by Jean Reynolds Page

The new book, THE SPACE BETWEEN BEFORE AND AFTER, has been out for almost two weeks and this week I had my first book event for it. The event was a reading/reception at a local bookstore and, as the date approached, I found myself more and more nervous.

By the afternoon of the reading, my daughter put her hand on my arm and said, “Are you trembling?” I realized I was. If I was already shaking with nerves at four o'clock in the afternoon, the next logical step was to get up in front of eighty people a mere three hours later and go completely catatonic.

I talked with a friend of mine and said, “I don't know why I'm so scared. I've done this before.” She said, “Yeah, but that was almost two years ago with your last book. You've been a writer too long now. You need to get used to being an author again.”

I'd never thought there was much difference, but I realized she was right. The writer me sits at the computer all day with the dog beside me, engaged in the lives of imaginary people who--while they might surprise me on any given afternoon--are not going to intimidate me in the least. An audience full of breathing souls seemed overwhelming and more than a bit terrifying.

I managed to calm myself enough to think about what I had to say that might possibly be of interest to a room full of adults. I decided that if I'd found characters worthy of a year of my writing time, they were certainly worthy of populating an evening in their honor. So, I got up, took a deep breath (and a healthy couple of sips from my wine) and talked about the people in the book. How they came to be. How they evolved.

With a head full of my characters and a glass full of Bordeaux, I managed. The astonishing thing was that people listened and they chuckled at the right times and nodded. Everything was okay.

It was a humbling experience for an enthusiastic writer/reluctant author to realize that my characters weren't the only ones who had to evolve.


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