The traffic was at a standstill, temporary traffic lights set up on the bridge across the motorway. I hoped I would not be late. I like to be punctual, especially when I know people are coming to hear me speak. However, I need not have worried as I arrived with time to spare.
When speaking in libraries I am never sure just what the response will be, how many people will turn up to hear yet another author talk about their work, interests, and indeed in my case, my view of life. People began to arrive, a few familiar faces; one young woman had travelled forty miles; it was good to see her again. When I see her face in the audience I feel as though I want to hug her, simply for her support and belief in what I do. Another lady I know who sent me a lovely card after my last visit to this, my local library, produced a pot of home made jam: ‘a little gift for you’ she said. These are my readers, my inspiration, as also is Elizabeth, the Librarian, who makes it all possible. A young boy arrives with his mum – I promise that I will try not to ‘bore’ him with my presentation. He gives a hesitant smile, as if wondering if I will keep my promise.
One lady, as she arrives, informs us that she has been ‘dragged along’ by her friend and that really she didn’t feel like coming out at all. Not a lot I could say to that – other than to hope that she would change her mind by the end of the evening.
Other people arrived, and then a lady with a broad smile approached me to say we had spoken recently on the telephone, and that she heard me speak in Preston five years ago. Next my daughter in law, with her best friend, arrives. My welcome was complete, my listeners assembled: the rest was up to me.
Over an hour later, as I signed my books I felt, as always, not only relieved that the evening had gone well, but also humbled, especially when the lady who had felt she had been ‘dragged out’ told all of us that she was so pleased that she had come after all and that she felt so much better!
A welcome cup of tea followed with lots of informal chat, Elizabeth and the other library staff, as always, ensuring that everyone felt welcomed and cherished. Our libraries are such social centres!
As a speaker I have spoken to very large numbers especially in America and Australia, however a group of less than thirty – being a small number – lends itself well to a more informal approach. Last Friday evening was no exception.
My thanks to everyone at the library, and especially to the members of my audience. I am ‘billed’ as an ‘inspirational’ speaker and it’s a great inspiration to me when my listeners are so receptive, and as the Americans would say, ‘go with the flow.’
I am lucky I meet such amazing people!!
Hope to see you soon!
Vera Waters, September 2014