On Monday I had a reading. The audience consisted mainly of writers, students and people in the biz. People said nice things and bought books. I smiled and remained professional.
Last night, I had a different reading at my local library. This one was attended by a small group of friends, work colleagues and librarians. Librarians. The word is enough to make my throat go dry; my hands get numb, I get palpitations, the works. I chose the same story I read on Monday, but the little pockets of laughter were notably absent. It probably had something to do with putting emphasis on all the wrong words, which I do when I am nervous. Also, the mumbling didn’t help. Ar some point there was desperation, which is never a good look for me.
The librarians were kind-faced and nodded supportively from the front row, which only made it worse. I wanted to flee into a dark corner, Jackson Pollock-style, as I did after my first event several years ago. It took everything I had to stand there and finish the story.
During the Q&A portion, the librarians were efficient, polite and well-prepared. One had googled me, another read a review that someone else had written and most (unlike the rest of my audience) had read the entire collection. I felt like a schoolgirl, scared that one of them would say I had failed to live up to my potential. I wanted to tell them that my next book featured librarians. Not ‘them’ specifically, more like a general homage to their kind. But I didn’t have the nerve. Unlike teachers, who I’ve never had a problem with, librarians make me shy and inspire a sense of awe, probably because I have worshipped so often at their church.
Overall they liked the collection, which was a relief. More than relief. When one works and lives among books, these things really matter. Friends and family, work colleagues, I love them dearly. They always know how to make me feel better. Librarians, on the other hand, tell it like it is. And for that I respect them. They still scare me though.