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Notes from the (Failure) Field

This month I have a short video with a bit of an update on two fronts related to what’s been going on with me (along with, of course, the emotional baggage that goes along with any of my stories).

For one, I want to share about how I experimented with using video at a few of my public readings. I’ve often found author readings a little tedious, which is strange because I love reading and I love authors. There are a lot of obvious pitfalls that can cause a bad reading. A reading can go on too long. The author may choose an imperfect excerpt to read. There could be a lack of connection between author and audience for some reason. A big problem I face is that I have serious stage fright. This can all make for a less-than-stellar author reading, even when the book itself is solid. Since I’ve been getting a kick out of doing these videos, I decided to see if I could blend the video shtick alongside an author reading.

I was fortunate in that the fabulous Cheryl Strayed [1] asked me if I would participate in the Rumpus [2] event in San Francisco to celebrate the release of Cheryl’s new book (Tiny Beautiful Things [3]). My book was chosen as a Rumpus Book Club pick for July so I definitely wanted to read from my book at a Rumpus event. But I also decided to experiment with playing some animation as I talked about how Cheryl mentored me back in 2009. The animations were timed so that they expanded on (or contradicted) what I was saying at the time. I wasn’t perfectly smooth at doing this, but I still think it’s an interesting way to shake up an author reading. (West coasters: check out my event schedule [4] to find out if I’ll be fumbling my way through a presentation at a bookstore near you.)

On another front, I want to share the experience of getting my first really bad book review. I’ll let you watch the experience for yourself. A crying, drinking anteater can more effectively express the experience than any of my words.

What do you think about author readings? Have you seen any innovative ways to shake them up?
And what about handling the critics? Any personal anecdotes or experiences in that realm?

About Yuvi Zalkow [5]

Yuvi Zalkow [6]'s first novel was reluctantly published in 2012 by MP Publishing. His forthcoming novel will be published by Red Hen Press. His stories and essays have been published in Glimmer Train, Narrative Magazine, Carve Magazine, The Daily Dot, Rosebud, The Poop Report, and others. He occasionally makes YouTube videos and apps for iPhones. Check out his website [7] if you actually want to find out more.