Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Countdown to ALA -- Jay

I used to get nervous before speaking in front of a group. Insanely nervous! Sweaty, grumpy, shaky, ready-to-puke nervous. In fact, I used to pray for puke because “I can’t go on, I just puked” is a really good excuse.

But once I’m physically standing before an audience…once there’s no turning back…I enjoy myself. In fact, speaking before an audience has become something I look forward to. That sink-or-swim predicament allows me to forget all of my real-world stresses and just have fun. Of course, it took many speaking engagements before I noticed the nerves always backed off when I needed them to. But now, just knowing I will get through it without a dry cleaning bill makes me excited about upcoming gigs.

Until now.

This coming weekend is the American Library Association’s annual conference. On Friday, shortly after I make the drive down to Anaheim, Penguin’s hosting a dinner for select librarians, educators, and ALA Awards Committee members. And I’m supposed to get up and say a few words. Sounds like something I’d enjoy, right?

Well, I made the horrible mistake of asking for a list of names of the other authors who will be speaking. In alphabetical order, they are…

Andrew Clements
John Green
Ingrid Law
Tao Nyeu
Neal Schusterman
Jon Scieszka
Nancy Werlin
Jacqueline Woodson

I seriously don’t know if I can do this. At least, not without puking on something. I’ve already started shaking and sweating and a few people have even called me grumpy in the past few days (but I think they’re all stupid and wrong!!!).

Seriously, I’ve been trying to figure out where within that list I’d feel most comfortable speaking. And I don’t know where! There is nowhere!

- Jay


Everything’s going to be okay.

Why the sudden change? Because of a dare. Yes, once again, I’ve been dared by a Mermaid to do something potentially embarrassing in front of a bunch of strangers. And knowing that I might embarrass myself on purpose eliminates the chance of me embarrassing myself on accident.

(Don’t worry, as long as I buy that logic, it works.)

I’ll let you know how it goes…

P.S. From 11 to noon on Sunday, I’ll be autographing copies of Thirteen Reasons Why in booth #2617. Stop by if you’re around!


Anonymous said...

Hey Jay,
WOW. You're rubbing elbows with the best. That is, indeed, a star-studded list. When you're enjoying a cerveza afterward with Jacqueline Woodson you can let her know that one of your 50-year old writing pals wants to be her when he grows up.
Break a leg,

Colorado Writer said...

Yikes! I'd never want to follow John Green, that's for sure. That man can give a talk!

Of course, you'll be great! Just don't snort coffee out your nose.

Disco Mermaids said...

You'll do great. It'll be fine--wait...did you say Andrew Clements? As in, the man who wrote FRINDLE!!??

Um. Well. Sure. It's fine. You're fine.

Check your teeth. Wear dark socks. And just know that you can always come back home to the people who love you.

Oh, and don't f#&* up, dude!!!

Hugs, (for real!)

Caryn said...

Okay. Now I *really* wish I could attend ALA, if only to see you embarrass yourself on purpose to avoid doing so by accident. Seriously, I have no doubt your speech will be amazing.

krw3b said...

Hey, if you puke, puke on John Green. Then he can puke on Jon Scieszka. And he can puke on Jacqueline Woodson. And so on. You could have a puke-chain-reaction. Then none of you would have to speak and you could all go hit the hot tub.

Ingrid Law said...

Hi Jay,

I don't know if you'll see this until after the puke-inducing event tonight, but I'm right up there with you... literally. And, I AM speaking right after John Green.

Plus, you've already got waaaay more experience than me. On the other hand, you do speak first. Hmmm... are you bringing breath mints? Can I share?

Best of luck, see you (meet you) tonight!

Ingrid (Law) :)

Disco Mermaids said...

Great! So they are doing it in alphabetical order.


Thankfully, I've been too nervous to eat much today, so there's not a lot moving around in my tummy.

- Jay

P.S. Can't wait to meet you, too! Will you sign my book???

Ingrid Law said...

Heh! Of course I'll sign your book! I thought about bringing everybody's books with me from Colorado, but I would have needed another suitcase.

Maybe you could sign the back of my hand or my dinner napkin? ;) Or just come for a visit to Colorado sometime!

See you soon.