It happened again.

The freeze!

I was giving the keynote at the SCBWI Canada east conference in Montreal and the audience was completely motionless, completely silent, and it was unnerving a bit.

It’s ideal, don’t get me wrong. It means they’re intently listening, but it’s kind of weird.

Again I had that feeling that I was speaking to a tableau, and then a guy picked up the pitcher of ice water on the table and poured himself a glass, and the sound was LOUD in the room!

I kind of smiled to myself as I continued on.

It’s funny what you see when you’re up there in front of seventy-eighty people!

At some points I saw people dabbing at their eyes and I told myself, no, they’re not crying! Are they? And then I saw the tweets which said I had indeed made some of them cry.

I have family members who keep telling me to focus more on the public speaking.

They keep telling me there’s money to be made, and of course there is!

But darn it! I got into this thing to write!

I’ve got three projects very close to fruition and I’m not sure what to do. I feel like if they just got me…

I don’t know.

All I know is that the public speaking seems to be getting easier and easier and I’ve had to turn away gigs. I was invited to do a presentation on Eid day at a Muslim community out of town. I said sorry, no. I don’t work on Eid.

I think it’s the right decision.

You do have to draw a line right?

I think the most frustrating thing is that I like the pieces I wrote. To me they work. They say exactly what I want them to say.

But… and this is the big question…are they marketable?

Perhaps not.

I need to adjust yet again, I need to shift the angle of what I’m saying.

I’ve always believed it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it, I just need to say it properly.

And I realized something even as I was standing there.

There’s some kind of disconnect between the way I speak and the way I write.

When I speak I can usually connect with the audience almost immediately.

Tone of voice, cadence, subject matter… I can usually engage them. It’s been very seldom that I’ve failed.

And I read somewhere that people can tell within seconds of meeting you whether you’re trustworthy or not, and that, more than competence, more than almost any other metric is what they judge  you on and decide whether to engage with you or not.

Of course I didn’t win everyone!

I’ve learned you can’t.

They handed out evaluations for the conference and over the day and a half of intense sessions and stuff, my keynote was a highlight for at least sixty-five attendees!

One person didn’t like it!

One person!

And when I heard the news, of course I will perversely wonder what I did to anger the one person instead of rejoicing that the sixty-five people loved it!

It gives me both hope and pause.

Hope in that I must have the intrinsic ability to tailor my content to people’s needs.

I mean I did a lot of research for that keynote and I included some really good quotes from George Bernard Shaw (mind you George Bernard Shaw, despite being brilliant had some very horrible ideas too! But his writing quotes are well worth quoting!) I talked about approaching your story, about not forcing your characters to do your bidding, and that writing is like stepping off a cliff and hoping the story catches you.

And then since I write picture books to young adult novels I spoke about the creative process of both Big Red Lollipop and Wanting Mor, both stories being connected by my older sister and her death.

It was an amazing experience!

And even though I was sick, sick, sick while I was giving the keynote, the fact that people came up to me for the rest of the conference telling me how much they’d loved it, really warmed my heart.

So right now I’m feeling really torn.

Good and frustrated, and that is the essence of uncomfortable which is exactly how you should feel when you’re writing.

So I guess that’s good…