Reading your own work out in front of an audience is an totally different experience to simply giving it to someone else to read.
Publicity is a key part of being an writer, according to all the authors who have visited Falmouth as part of our guest lecture programme. Reading your work - at book signings, lectures and various literary festivals - is part of this. Recently, Patrick Gale told us that he sees his career as having two sides - as a writer, and as an author. As a writer, you spend most of your time locked away with your laptop or notebook. An author's role is much more public.
While we've had to get used to reading and commenting on each others' work over the last few months, and yes, even reading out loud in front of the group, it's totally different to think about reading to members of the public who don't know me, or my work.
In a way, it's liberating.
I've started reading my work at Telltales, a monthly storytelling evening. In the comfortable intimate surroundings of Babahogs arts cafe, stories unfold by candlelight.
The first time I read, there were very few people there I knew, and strangely this made me less nervous. Reading a story that I hadn't shown to anyone before, it was interesting to see people's reactions, and hear their comments afterwards. There was no agenda: I knew that any feedback was a reflection of the story and the telling alone.
Reading aloud helps you find the rhythm of the story: where it flows and where it falters. It helps you understand how to pace a story so that you keep the listener (or reader) with you. A good story should have you almost on the edge of your seat, eager to find out what happens next.
I'll be reading all my stories out loud from now on - even if it's just to myself.