To be honest, I'm not particularly nervous before book events. I'm happy reading my material, doing workshops or signings, and talking about my work. But maybe my subconscious thinks otherwise. Here's the summary of a dream I had last night which addresses virtually every 'event fear' a writer might have in one simple nightmare:
1. Arriving at the wrong venue - I had the choice of two bookstores in my dream. I was sure the one I chose was the wrong one, but I didn't even check out the other store;
2. Being late - Other writers were also giving readings and I had to noisily make my way to a seat whilst they were doing so (this is before I'd even checked it was the right store);
3. Checking details - I hate approaching people to confirm they know who I am. In the dream I eventually plucked up courage to ask if I was in the right bookstore - and whilst they said yes, I was still convinced that I wasn't;
4. Needing the toilet - Whilst another writer was reading I had to go to the loo. Of course, I had to walk past the podium to do so. Steps led down to a basement which had a full-length window through which the public were visible. I decided not to use the loo, turned my back to the window, and peed for a good five minutes onto the floor;
5. Occupied seat - Of course, returning upstairs I found the seat I had next to my partner was now occupied by a man eating ice-cream. Whilst the other writer was reading I had to loudly insist on regaining my seat only to find there was now chocolate ice-cream on it;
6. Deciding what to read - I flicked through the pages of my soon to be published novel, The Immortalists, only to find that the typesetting on several pages was skewed and illegible. I couldn't make any decision as to which chapter to read - due to length, legibility, appropriateness;
7. Equipment faults - Finally at the podium to do my reading I was so wary of getting the right volume on the microphone that I tried speaking with the end in my mouth (later in the dream, the mic disappeared and changed into a horn-like tube);
8. Disruptions - Before I could begin reading I was disrupted by the previous writer coming back to collect her stuff, and someone knocking a glass of Coke which had been provided for me all over my trousers as he knocked against the podium (thankfully not spilling onto the book);
9. Inappropriate material - It wouldn't be the first time that I've chosen something to read at an event to find children in the audience with their parents for whom the material wouldn't be appropriate. In the dream I made an announcement that some of the content might be considered sexually or verbally offensive for some people, only to find the back of the bookstore drop away and see my words broadcast over a wide plaza containing all kinds of townsfolk going about their daily business - with the guarantee of offending somebody;
10. Unable to find chosen text to read - In the dream I repeatedly searched through the book in front of the waiting crowd whilst inexplicably I was unable to find the passage I had chosen, the tension and fear mounting continuously. People begin to leave;
11. Inability to do the reading - In the dream, once I found the chapter I wanted, all the pages turned to coloured tissue paper and it was impossible to turn a page without scrunching it into a useless unreadable ball, whilst all the time muttering apologies for my uselessness;
12. No confidence in the material - Finally, having surmounted all the obstacles, I began to read only to realise my delivery was flat and without enthusiasm as I realised what I was reading was utter rubbish;
It was then that I woke.
Hopefully when I do take part in promotional events for this novel I won't be beset by anything like the above. But all eventualities are possible.