Argh! Public speaking – another of the many things I fear.
So, today our friendly local vicar, Mark, in full knowledge of what I write, has asked me to go into our local church primary school on Wednesday and talk to the 5-11 year olds for 10 minutes about being an author. Preferably working something about God in there too.
I’m thinking I’ll say something about how I wanted to write when I was their age, but for a long time I thought God would want me to do something harder – like giving away all my money and going out to the Congo to feed starving children. It took me a long time to believe that just because I wanted to do something, didn’t necessarily mean that God automatically didn’t want me to do it. He might have actually given me that talent because he wanted me to use it.
Then I’ll probably say something about how I write books with gay heroes because God loves gay people, and sometimes it’s extra hard when you’re growing up and you’re gay, because people are mean to you. And there are lots of books with straight people as the heroes, but not very many with gay heroes, which isn’t very fair, particularly when people are already making you feel like you’re all alone. So I like to write happy books where gay people get to do exciting things like fly fighter planes and fight pirates, and they find someone to love and live happily ever after with. Because it’s hard to feel that God loves you if it’s only the straight people who ever get to do anything interesting or fall in love or get married.
Then I might talk about C.S Lewis and Tolkien, and what I learned from them when I was little. I’ll say that I’m an author because I think the stories we tell ourselves are very important. They teach us right from wrong, and how to be brave, and they can sometimes be the only thing that tells us that someone else understands us and still likes us. Then I’ll wrap up by saying that that’s why I think that sometimes God really does call people to write books instead of running soup kitchens. So if they have special things that they love doing, maybe they could think about how to use them to make the world a kinder place.
Is that likely to fill ten minutes, do you think? Does anyone know how many words approximately it would take to fill ten minutes, if I wrote the whole thing out and memorized it? And do you think it’s pitched about right for 5-11 year olds? I’ve never done any public speaking before, ever, and I have no idea what to do.