Well, yesterday was my big day to shine on Voice of America TV. And looking back on the experience, the shiniest part of it was probably my face from all the sweat pouring from it under the hot TV lighting.
See, here’s the thing. I’m a writer, not a talker? I mean I can talk, but . . . not quite as fluently as, say, Daniel Webster. In fact, it pains me to say that Britney Spears or Keith Richards (drunk) could probably manage a more coherent interview than me.
Okay, I’m probably being a wee bit hard on myself. It’s not like I got so nervous I did a “deer in the headlights” freeze-up or began speaking in tongues. Hell, I did much better than Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman.
O-kay. So that isn’t really saying much, is it?
I’m going to blame it on that TV light. It was really bright. And hot! So hot, it caused my brain to melt. Brains are made up of soft tissue not unlike custard or ice cream, so under that light, my brain simply turned to mush.
I seem to recall saying things. Just don’t ask me what I said–it’s like a dream now.
Things started off really well. I felt surprisingly calm–too calm, I’ve come to realize. That should have been a red flag right there.
Because when you’re nervous, it means you’re prepared. But when we got started, I felt something less than prepared. Between my mushy brain and my thoughts racing like rabid gerbils in my head, I think I may have come off a bit, um, less than eloquent.
The interviewer (a really nice guy named Brad, who looked nothing like a police interrogator) started off with a simple question. Something like, how did you get started in publishing? Easy, right? Instead of any of the glib replies I’d envisioned beforehand, I blurted out some . . . words of some sort. I’m not even sure they were responsive, frankly.
Things moved along nicely, with Brad tossing easy questions at me, like a tennis pro tossing balls to a novice, and me either coughing out responses like a cat hacking up a hairball or gibbering like a chimpanzee on speed. Gesturing as appropriate, no doubt.
And I cringe to think how my expressions must have looked. I figure I ran the gamut from scowling in thought to grinning like an idiot.
And you know the best part? (Yes, it gets even better.) I think I mentioned the name of my book once. Almost in passing, with an air of apology about it. Like, sorry to interrupt this conversation about e-books and publishing for my commercial, but I sort of have this book . . .
And then . . . (How bad can it be? Bad.) I didn’t even say what the book was about! Brilliant!
So there I was, smiling, gesturing and gibbering and saying “um” a few thousand times. And Brad started pelting me with questions (no more easy tosses now) about the future of digital publishing. I’d gone over all this sh*t in my head, but for some reason, I seemed to have lost the ability to put simple sentences together. Words I normally knew escaped me. So, there were a few Jackie Gleason-like “hamina hamina” moments.
And when we were done, I thought, “What the hell just happened?”
Brad told me VOA TV is available pretty much everywhere outside the U.S. (Though I’m assuming researchers in Antarctica may be spared or denied my performance, depending on how you look at it.) I’m wondering how well my retardulous (thanks Anti-DC blog for that word!–giving credit where it’s due, people) gibberings will translate, and I can only imagine what people overseas will think. On the other hand, perhaps it’s best not to imagine it at all.
And the interview could be picked up by radio stations. Plus VOA will have a transcript on its Web site. But best (or worst) of all, I’ll be on YouTube. (Oh, dear God.)
So now I can join the rest of the idiots on YouTube. Actually, I’ll look like a genius compared to some of them. So–good, right?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that I’m so not ready for Oprah. I’m not ready for The Today Show. I’m not ready for any talk show anytime or anywhere. I’m not even ready for local cable access TV.
And, if I could make one last request of Brad and Emily (Brad’s wife and camera operator), it’s to please, please, please–edit the hell out of this thing!
All right, I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t all that bad. (I hope.)