…and something else.
I want to tell you a story, starting at the end. The lovely, kind, patient, funny, talented author, David W. Robinson, interviewed me here. David has written lots of books, the latest being The Anagramist, which you can read about here.
Where does the story begin? It could start with my relationship with interviews, although I think that’s really backstory. In my previous life, my experience of face-to-face interviews was with job interviews. Frankly, the fact that I did get accepted for some jobs was probably despite those interviews.
I think the story should begin last Sunday, when David sent me the interview questions, but then I need to add a bit more backstory. Of course, if I were writing the story properly, I would begin at the beginning of the story itself and seamlessly weave in the backstory. As I’m not telling it properly, I’ll fill you in now. David originally told us authors that those who wanted to take part would create a video with our answers and he would add his part of the chat afterwards. I thought, I can do that; it’s like creating any video. And I volunteered. It was a bad decision, it turned out.
I’m still in the backstory, because at some point David realised it would be much easier for him to just record an online chat, using Skype or Zoom. This is when I should definitely have backed down, but I didn’t. I thought, I’ll work out the answers in advance, so surely it can’t be that hard. That’s me. I’ve never had that pre-event anxiety that’s supposed to be part of social anxiety. That’s not necessarily a positive trait.
Right. Finally, I can begin the story. David sent me the questions, I sent him my answers and we arranged a time for the interview on Zoom. I decided to use my mobile phone, because the camera on my laptop is too low down, and makes me look cross-eyed. But the phone, it turned out, created more problems than it solved. We weren’t synchronised, we had problems understanding each other and that wasn’t just because of David’s hearing difficulties and my lack of familiarity with the Yorkshire accent.
So we went back to the previously suggested method. I made my video (videos, actually, but let’s not get into that) and sent it to David. But he discovered that he couldn’t add his part without taking over the whole screen, rather than having us side by side all the time. So we eventually scrapped the video idea and David put the interview out as a written one. End of story?
Yes, but I’ve missed something out. Although David was super kind and blamed everything on the technical problems on both sides, it must have been clear to him, as it was to me when I watched the videos, that my performance left a lot to be desired. While his part was polished and flowed easily, mine was hesitant and unnatural, as it used to be in job interviews, as I often sound when simply chatting. I’ve decided before that I don’t want to do video interviews because of that. Why did I let myself volunteer to be interviewed yet again? Because this is part of being an author in the 21st century. Because I think I need to crack this and always imagine that next time it’ll work better.
And how do I manage to give presentations? By practising beforehand and learning whole texts off by heart. Or by reading passages from the page. A presentation isn’t a chat; sometimes you can get away with that.
The imaginary pets? All part of David’s wonderful humour in our numerous emails. He made up cats and dogs, which led me to think of the rain we probably won’t see in Israel for five months, which led him to talk of droughts. And then there was a budgie (or there wasn’t). Maybe I should give up on being an author and open a pet shop with imaginary pets.
6 replies on “Of Technical Issues and Imaginary Pets…”
Great post, Miriam.
Great story, Miriam, and from my point of view, every word is accurate. The dog, the cat, and the budgie are all imaginary.
I think you’re selling yourself short. You’re obviously quite uncertain in front of a video camera, but that’s all about comfort zones and expanding them. When I first started doing live videos, I was a bit that way, but I’m an idiot: I press on regardless, and I really don’t care how much of a berk I make of myself.
The technical problems were real enough. Connections over a mobile phone and not best way forward, and when I first mooted the idea of author conversations months ago, I didn’t think it through properly. Over and above that, Zoom’s capacity is still a bit beyond me, and as for my hearing… It’s reached the stage where I’m almost completely deaf, which is why I insist on having the answers scripted in advance.
Despite all the trials and tribulations, it was great fun, and I learned plenty from it. But what really stood out was your story. You do have a story to tell and lessons for all of us to learn.
I hope the books go really well, and thanks for taking part.
Thanks for having me, David, and for your lovely comments. Yes, I have a story to tell – one that, by its nature, is hard to communicate.
Written interviews are definitely better from my point of view as well. And I’m glad it’s not just me that seems to look anywhere but where I ought to be. Other people look so natural!
Absolutely! I feel this is an opportunity I have to miss out on, and it’s hard enough as it is to get noticed as an author. Thanks for commenting, Annalisa. 🙂