Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordcraft -- A fear worse than death

Does anybody know who first said that speaking in public was people’s number one fear? (Fear of death only made second place.) Whoever said it, it’s true -- at least the speaking in public part.

That’s why Dallas Writers Garret member Dan Collins started a reading for performance workshop (known, after some time changes, as the Third Sunday Reading Group). Because, some day, eventually, if all goes well, we writers know that however much we fear it, we’ll have to read our work in public. Out loud.

I’ve attended several of Dan’s workshops and can attest to the improvement they’ve made in the speaking performance of writers. More than one of us wept, had to bring in a stool because we feared our knees were too weak to let us stand while we read, and just flat out lost our voices during a performance. But we were among friends who understood why we got so emotional. And after a few practices, we could, mostly, get through several pages without breaking down.

One of the suggestions Dan offered, was to read other people’s works if our own felt too emotionally laden. And in honor of the upcoming Banned Books Week, a member suggested reading from books that have been banned.

I plan to bring the subversive children’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? The Texas State Board of Education briefly banned the beloved bear last year after confusing one of the book’s authors, the late Bill Martin, Jr., with philosopher Bill Martin. Is it possible Board of Education members had never read Brown Bear to their children or grandchildren?

If you’d like to practice reading out loud, contact the Writers Garret at 214-828-1715, or at so Dan can get you on the schedule for this coming Sunday, September 18, 4-6 p.m. The workshop meets on the second floor of Paperbacks Plus, 6115 La Vista Dr., in Dallas.

Things we’ve learned about reading aloud -- speak SLOWLY. Bring drinking water. And a stool helps -- Dan will find one if you need it.

I’d love to hear about your favorite banned books. If you’re not sure whether your best-loved book has been banned somewhere, see or


Want to support your favorite organizations? Your money can go further if you make that pledge tomorrow, September 15, through DonorBridge. One million dollars in matching funds is available for gifts made to many Texas organizations through Check it out and see if your organization is listed.

On a totally immodest note -- The Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble at 7700 W. Northwest Highway in Dallas has a few copies of the anthology that includes my rodeo story, “Eight Seconds.” Check the Western shelves in the fiction section upstairs for publisher Moonlight Mesa’s “Award-Winning Tales.”

1 comment:

  1. On Melissa's totally immodest comment, I will add that she is a fine writer. And, this one, I happen to know was well researched. Go forth and find the anthology!

    Oh, and P.S.: that reading out loud will dry your mouth out worse than any pain medication a hospital can coach you to swallow. Dan's group is friendly and willing to help.