Friday, March 07, 2003
Did you forget to mention the "Books" column in "The Week"?
I just read it last night, but I often get out of sync.

It's there -- scroll down to the 4th. Honest.

Hi, Neil.

My question(s) is/are about the readings you do. I've only recently
found and listened to the audio and video clips on your website, and
(forgive me) I've downloaded a few things elsewhere on the Internet that I
suspect to be snippets from 'Warning: Contains Language,' and I am
impressed by how natural you seem to be on the stage. Was it always this
way, were you a natural for public speaking? Or did it take a whole lot
more to get you to come out from behind the typewriter and read aloud to
a bunch of people you don't know? Were you horrible when you first
started readings or did 'the actor within' pop out and take over right
away? How does it feel to have people come so far (like I will, to ComicCon
this summer) just to hear you talk?

And I have to echo the sentiments from another reader, about how your
journal feels less like your-basic-blog and more like a nice little chat
with an odd sort of fellow in the sci-fi section of a bookstore. It's
sort of a writer's curse (if you can call it that), I think, to
unintentionally-on-purpose make everything sound like a story - even normal
life. I'm very grateful that you take the time out to write in your
journal as often as you do.

Thank you.

- Anna Hight

Let's see... I used to be terrified of speaking in public. Partly, I think, because I was scared of drying up, and partly because I was scared I wouldn't have anything to say. (And, of course, partly because I was worried they'd throw things, which was a faint hangover from my punk-band days). Bryan Talbot talked me into coming to Preston to talk to the SF group there in about 1987, and I got up in front of everyone and had no idea what I'd say or if I'd be able to do it without screaming or evaporating in a small puff of smoke, and just started talking, and I found that I could answer questions and just sort of burble to a lot of people and it didn't worry me. I didn't know I could read in front of an audience until the Dragoncon in about 1991 where I was on a panel and had to read "Chivalry" to an audience, and discovered with a sort of dark, unholy joy that I really really liked reading stories to audiences.

The last time I got real stage fright was in about 1992, when my friend Polly Sampson took me up onto the stage before a Pink Floyd concert, and I looked out over 70,000 mostly empty seats, imagined having to talk to that many people, and was utterly terrified. Wandered out onto the same stage before the Tori/Alanis concert several years later and it didn't bother me at all -- probably because in the meantime I'd done readings and talks for an ever-growing number of people, and none of them had thrown anything.

I'll get a tiny bout of stage fright before going out onto a big stage, but I always figure that's useful.

I think WARNING:CONTAINS LANGUAGE was recorded in about 1994, and LIVE AT THE ALADDIN was taped in 2000, and I hope I got better, but I probably didn't.

How do I feel about people travelling a long way to see me? Er... I don't really know. Whenever people tell me they've come a very long way to see me read or talk I'm normally a sort of combination of amazed and guilty. It's like the people in long signing lines who tell me proudly it's their birthday.


The Mariott hotel group is under the impression that you can make a drinkable cup of tea using the hotel room's coffee perculator, a complimentary tea-bag, a thing of creamer, and a sort of a small cut off plastic straw. The Marriott hotel group is wrong.