July 26, 2011

Practice Public Speaking

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:07 am
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Aaron Sorkin, writer of The West Wing and The Social Network, once claimed that he’d be perfectly happy to sit in his room and slip a script out and have someone slip a meal back. That way they’d all think he was as clever as his characters. Before today, I didn’t realize I agreed with that statement.

I got up at 6:20AM to get to CBC Radio Montreal and do a live broadcast about the terrorist attacks in Norway. I have to admit that I didn’t do the best I could. I walked out of the studio feeling like I didn’t get my point across as well as I would have liked, and that I didn’t sound as professional as I could have. That’s not a good feeling and I’m going to take the steps necessary to make sure the first interview for my book will be better.

As writers, we’re encouraged to participate in open mic nights, to read our stories to our friends and aloud to ourselves. Some people also tell you to practice your pitch in the same way. That’s sound advice, but I’d like to take it one step further and advice you to start practicing public speaking. Read the news and formulate your opinions on current events, pretending to be a reporter or an expert. Tape yourself speaking and listen back to it. Note what words you overuse and what words you forget. I, for instance, have a tendency to insert the words “thing,” “stuff” and “like” into every conversation. I also cuss a lot.

Don’t go crazy about it. I don’t want you to feel like you can’t say anything unless you prepared it beforehand, but I do want you to be confident. When you meet a agent or an editor, when your book is launched and the newspapers and local radio want to interview you on your bestseller (because we’ll all get there, I’m sure of it!), I want you to know that you can speak for yourself. Seriously, how bad would you feel if your pitch flew off your tongue, but was followed by mumbling interspersed with cusses?

Things I didn’t know about radio interviews:

1. Hearing how your voice sounds to other people while you speak is unsettling.
2. Having a timer in front of you takes away much needed focus.
3. Not inquiring about what kind of questions they plan to ask before you go in means you might end up saying things like “I don’t think he’s crazy. Well, I mean, he is crazy, but not, um, in Norwegian we’d call it “utilregnelig,” meaning…”
4. Having a glass of water will only make you notice how dry your mouth is whilst simultaneously make you freak out about making slurping noises on air.

I’m happy I went and I hope I adequately represented the Norwegians of Montreal, but next time I’ll come better prepared. Listen to the interview here:Daybreak clip

Do you practice public speaking? Do you have any tips on how to sound professional and intelligent on air?


July 25, 2011

Tune in to CBC Canada radio tomorrow

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 2:24 pm
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I’ll be on at 7.40AM to talk about the attacks in Norway.

Listen live online here:

July 24, 2011

Do you have family in Oslo? Check the papers

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 1:13 pm
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This blog is about writing fiction, but today I cannot avoid the personal. What happened in Norway hit too hard and too close to home.

Two days ago I was walking down Ste-Catherine street in Montreal in blistering heat, planning my vegetable container garden, when I got a text message: “Do you have family in Oslo? Check the newspapers.”

“God, I hate it when people can’t just come straight out and say what’s going on,” I thought as I pulled up my 3G and opened And there it was. Pictures of destroyed government buildings blasted across my screen. Buildings I used to walk by, buildings I used to work inside. I rang my mom, asking if my brother was okay. She launched into a long speech about his troubles of selling his used furniture (he’s moving downtown, you see).
“No mom,” I interrupted. “Have you heard from him? Are you sure he wasn’t hurt in the attack?”
“What attacks?”
Turns out news travels faster to Canada than to Holmestrand. Global world indeed. Whilst on the phone with me, my mom got updated on the situation and we called everyone, making sure all friends and family had made it. They had.

It was only later that we realized this attack, killing seven people and hurting many more, was only a diversion. While we spoke, the real attack happened outside the city at a summer camp for politically active labor party children.

It’s two days later and people are still reeling. That one lone man could murder over eighty children is inconceivable, and yet it happened. I’m proud to see the calm political leadership of our elected representatives, and I’m impressed by the work of both medical professionals and the police in this terrible tragedy.

For the ramifications of this attack, see this article

The rest of my links are in Norwegian, but well worth a read. I suggest google translating them, and if anything doesn’t make sense after that, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll translate on the spot for you.

When people have access to all the information on the internet, how come their views aren’t challenged: seerfragmentering

Terror attacks used as a bloody book launch: Manifesto For A European Civil War

Who’s the terrorist: European Neofascism

It still seems unreal. I wish I could walk down the streets and see the ruins. It irks me that this terrorist’s “publicity stunt” worked and that all over the world, people are reading his words, downloading his book. I hope the radical right doesn’t get a single new followers from this attack.

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