Fred Astaire aside, I've scheduled a library talk tonight, so I've been doing all that silly stuff we do before presenting ourselves to strangers. Not sure why it matters if my nails are polished, but it makes me feel like I have done my part. The thing is, one never knows if it's going to be worth all the effort. I pack three tote bags with handouts, giveaways, book I hope to sell, etc., and then drive whatever distance I must. And sometimes nobody shows up. Sometimes three people. Sometimes thirty; those are the good nights. I once did my schtick for the librarian, her mother, and her sister, and I've seen embarrassed library staff whispering to patrons who wander in to use the computer, trying to interest them in the speaker who isn't famous enough to draw a crowd. The fact that I offer programs that people always seem to enjoy isn't apparent until afterward, when the "crowd" of four murmur things like, "X will be sorry she missed this!" or "We'll have to have you back" with the unexpressed, "...now that we know you're good." It reminds me of that old country song, "Did I Shave My Legs for This?"

And then my friends say, "It must be cool to do all that author stuff."

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Comment by Dana King on October 7, 2009 at 2:02am
My pat life as a musician had much the same problem, though at least I was a member of an ensemble then. I adopted the attitude of expecting a handful of people, so I could be pleasantly surprised if we got a nice turnout. If the crowd was just a handful, I tried to put a little extra into that performance to thank them for coming out, or to, in the only way available, make those who missed us regret it.

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