So there we were, twenty of us, at Northumbria University, the other night, reading from our various pamphlets, novels and collections, which were produced either by Biscuit or Red Squirrel (two independent publishers based in the North East). I have to commend them both for putting on a show, keeping our names alive, so that we don't turn into cobwebs, but of course it's up to us to make it a show. And it's a mine-field.
Take microphones. You love 'em or you hate 'em, and it's to do with technique. There's an art to using a mic, sometimes it's best not to bother, especially if your piece is peppered with Ps and you think that sucking the thing is the best way to be heard. Well you will be heard, if that's your inclination, but it's like listening to popping corn in a hot pan. Not a good sound.
Take the words we've all slaved over. Sadly, there's an art to reading out our work, which most of us (including me) probably haven't quite mastered yet, and perhaps should. If you can perform, rather than just read a piece, then it's got to be better. Apropos that, ten out of ten to Tom Kelly. No popping, great presence. If clapometers were still in use, he'd have won, in this competitive world of ours. Thank God we writers are above that sort of thing...
Anyway, I'm pleased to say that I bought a book (not one of my own...though it was tempting...) and sold a book (which was one of my own) so I came out no poorer, no richer. But you know you're onto a loser when the audience is mainly writers. We're a mean lot. Or maybe just poor. Perhaps we should just swap books at these events and promise not to drop them in the bath or let the dog pee on them, or mark the place with a bit of bacon. It's been done, incidentally, though not by me. What a waste of bacon.