Crowdsourcing My Anxiety

I’m terrified of reading to an audience. At a podium, I completely lose sight of who I am and I can barely even pronounce my own name. This fear has gotten better over the years — experience really does help in this area. If I’m lucky, I can use this anxiety as a source of humor on stage (and if I’m not lucky, I have to be rolled off stage while still in the fetal position). But it still scares the crap out of me.

In order to deal with this problem (and also to shake things up because I honestly find most readings kind of boring), I plan to accompany my reading with a video at many of the events in August. (Portland! Seattle! San Francisco! Los Angeles! San Diego! Check out my events page.)

But here’s my next problem: Which video to play? I have a secret one that I’ll be playing at some locations, but I also want to have a few other options. Any suggestions? Any favorites? I should say in advance that I want to use a short one — I don’t want to massacre my audience with a 50-minute Scrivener video, for example. I also don’t want it to get too geeky or too targeted at writers-only since I want to entertain a regular person walking into a bookstore (who might enjoy my brand of storytelling). Any suggestions?

Thank you thank you thank you for any feedback!

Oh. Also… I’m going to give one random commenter an advanced copy of my book, along with a $20 iTunes gift card buried in one of the more self-conscious pages. Post a comment here by July 5th to qualify.

Party on.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. says

    Public speaking is a common anxiety. I speak in front of an audience frequently for my work, but it’s always a nervous time. I find that it lessons the anxiety to speak as if I was simply having a conversation with someone. If you can find ways to pose questions and get the audience involved it becomes more of a conversation as opposed to a public speech.

  2. MSchechter says

    Since you’re mean and won’t release the book already so I can read it, I have to guess at which would be best… Jerk… Anyhow, the obvious answer is the trailer, but I think I’m A Failed Writer #7: Failing As A Failed Failure would be a good one. It’s always been one of my favorites, isn’t geeky and should be relatable to just about anyone except those who are too young to know what a cassette tape is… 

  3. flowerpotsun says

    I vote for “Fresh Ways to Look at Your Crappy Writing” or “10,000 Hours” — but I’m a fan of all the videos. Good luck! I wish I were on the West Coast so I could cheer you on, or make goofy faces from the audience. 

  4. says

    I’m a fan of the video with the elephant. I’m awful with remembering the titles, so I hope that’s enough information.
    I wish I were on the West Coast, too. I’d come to a reading. Best of luck, Yuvi!

  5. says

    Dear Yuvi,
    While I love your videos, I only want to watch them IF they are relevant to the presentation.
    I have been thinking alot about writer’s presentations, they typically suck. I have been impressed lately with two presenters- one randy jacobs <> who memorized this poem which had many sounds in it. This reminded me why I wanted to hear to rather than read it myself.
    If language is a virus
    then let me be sick with words
    Feverish as a solar powered camel
    raised on lagadadalia filibuster brownies and
    rooo tooo tooo dooo bach a naileeyaaan
    tonsil tribes chanting mass adorations
    to the cancer lip mystics sweltering in my belly
    afflicted with the zim zam oratomes
    of cortisone squash regaling hoist grievous
    from atop the wing tips of grand mammy ketchup’s
    scab coated mountains.
    This scattered vernacular is in my blood so
    tonflicate your placebo linguistics
    in the dim sum orchards and
    let the mingo tushy hank meat go fink boodlin’
    with Captain Kangaroo’s mimby
    Put away your ointments!
    Burn down your pharmacies of lard!
    Keep me incurable! Maintain my disease!
    beetle lick koink koink koink dinky whoop
    This is my underground tunnel
    my contravational gardenia, my Rabelais babble
    attempting to scrabble reassemble
    the raw sausage slip knot of kaboodle’s noozle
    when scrotal vati-chori  brandishing
    rancid hyper-dermics doused my diorama
    in timbit viagra inoculating me with a silence
    that stole my
    [v     o     I     c     e]
    That’s as clear as it’s gonna get
    it’s all the brainwashing will allow
    a few skim pimple ramblings pining for
    the truth
    is a fish, a roadrunner,
    a Jehosaphat lip magician buried
    beneath a suburb of menstrual log cabins
    leaving me often incomprehensible
    as sign language in the dark;
    but I pray to my horse caller
    all the pain that you carry might turn you interpreter,
    translating my own grim sickle dollop
    into a bridal touche
    Offer me your neck, I’ll give you my tongue
    and the stuttering ducks of your gimp-ed vox
    will turn into velveteen szechuan.
    We’ll become winsome church hill turnstiles
    slow dancing infections into the mouths of our gods
    So if language is a virus
    let us be sick with words
    creating a blue cholera hyperbiblic
    we can call our own.
    A laisse fair dinkum picnicnicpic
    where we get to play
    pin the tall tale ya
    on the glossalallia
    until all that destroys us is
    chor leavey nort twilling
    the ajuncter phiblic
    twit biddler
    feck feck
    feck feck
    feck feck
    The second presenter , Dennis E. Bolen has Soressa Gardner, a new age music partner accompany his readings. I can definitely imagine a whining violin (in a good sense) behind some of your presentation. 
    Good luck. 

  6. Bianca S says

    While I deeply admire and am delightfully jealous of all your videos (like probably every other writer who follows your blog), my vote is for the “semi-authorized trailer,” since it’s relevant and concise. I’m also quite interested to see top secret video, and I’m hoping you’ll leak it here after you’ve presented it at your readings. And good luck!

  7. JamesDucat says

    Hey Yuvi,
    It’s James Ducat.
    I was gonna vote for #13, AKA the Scrivener Screed, because it is good (and true).
    Ultimately though, based on your criteria, I chose #10 – Big Projects, Small Lists. I have many reasons. Feel free to stop reading these reasons at any point.
    1. You consider a topic that writers and non-writers can appreciate.
    2. Although the idea (making lists) is not new, you go into just the right amount of detail regarding types of lists and managing those lists to make it helpful without being overburdensome.
    3. I love the old school typeface.
    4. And the ASCII art.
    5. I think I need more reasons to justify the earlier use of the word “many.”
    6. It encouraged me to make lists, such as this one.
    Best of luck. Any video you choose will be great.

  8. Marva says

    This is my favorite video – I’m A Failed Writer #11: 10,000 Hours. I think anyone in your audience would be able to relate to this since it’s about the dedication necessary to be a success. I can also see that message motivating anyone with a serious goal in mind. 
    I wish your tour would take you to South Florida. I’d love to hear your reading.

  9. Oksanna says

    I vote #10 and #11, although I also liked the blogging video with Marilyn Manson, that was sharp and funny if it relates to the reading.
    Good luck! Great idea to use video!!!

  10. says

    Wow! Some great feedback so far. Thank you all for the helpful words… both to those that mentioned specific videos and to those that gave me advice about readings and presentations and public speaking in general. I’m flattered that you’d drop by and say a few words…

  11. says

    The short explanation for the contest result is this: Instead of one winner, I’ve selected three random winners. @MSchechter , @Patricia L Morris , and @flowerpotsun . Please use the contact form on my website or email me at yuvi {{at}} yuvizalkow {{dot}} com and send me the mailing address where you’d like me to send the book and the iTunes gift card.
    The longer explanation: I used a random number generator ( online to pick a value between 1 and 9 since there were nine unique commenters. The first value it turned up was Michael Schechter. Which in a way is great because he has been giving me a lot of good advice lately about various things. But then I felt like — wait a second, maybe someone will think I loaded the dice for this result. So I had the number generator pick an additional winner. And it picked Patricia L Morris. She gave me good advice from a different angle that was also worthy of a gift. But then I also noticed that Lisa Ahn tweeted about this blog post — a kind of thing I’m often too dumb to do myself, so I thought perhaps I should give her a prize as well. And of course I wanted to give everyone a prize, but I’m out of galleys for my book (and out of budget for iTunes gift cards!). I hope this doesn’t offend the other fabulous commenters: Oksanna, Marva, James, Bianca, Erin, Richard. I appreciate all your feedback as well.
    I’m still processing how to proceed with regard to public readings and my videos and I’ll give an update as I figure this out more coherently.

    • says

       @yuvizalkow  You should have a chat with trchandler and me! We’re working on a project that could tie into your process for which videos to use in conjunction with your readings.
      Congratulations to everyone who won a book. :)

      • says

         @Erin F.  trchandler Erin! I’m curious to hear more about the project you two are working on… Is there info online where I can read about it? Or should I contact you directly?… Hope you’re doing well!

      • says

         @yuvizalkow  trchandler We don’t have anything online. Well, we have a Google Doc, but that’s a work in progress. We’re working on a proposal for New Media Expo/BlogWorld, so I’m not sure what the protocol is. Maybe I’ve said too much already…I guess the best thing would be to contact me or Todd.
        I’m as well as can be when I’m trying to do too many things at once. I’ve got some scary things developing, too.

    • MSchechter says

       @yuvizalkow  @Patricia L Morris  @flowerpotsun FIX, FIX, FIX Then again, the fix is in my favor, so why am I complaining :) Do I get to grab this from you on Monday? If so, PSYCHED!

    • flowerpotsun says

       Yeah! Thanks so much. I’ll send my information to your email. (And this explanation is so purely Yuvi Zalkow — humble, funny, anxious . . . pantless). Love it! Can’t wait to read (and tweet up) your book.

  12. trchandler says

    @ErinMFeldman @yuvizalkow = example of a brilliant storyteller. Interesting that his videos started as way to deal with presentation anxiety

  13. says

    Thank you. It is my Dad’s 91st birthday today and I received a present from you, Yuvi. 
    An advanced copy of your ‘brilliant novel’ and $20 of itunes. I am floored to read a book that doesn’t come out until August 14th, 2012. And it’s a real book that came in the mail. I’ll take it to Mount St. Helens with me this week. What a delight. What a way to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. Dementia makes him forget his birthday, but I won’t.
    Patricia L Morris
    Random Winner 

    • says

       @Patricia L Morris Wow. So glad to hear from you, Patricia. I hope your dad’s birthday and Mount St Helens all goes well! It was a pleasure to get to send you the book and the iTunes treat!

  14. says

    Great blog. I just wanted to leave a quick comment to say thank you for sharing the material with the public. I found reading it to be both fun and informative. I will definitely bookmark this and tell my friends about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>