Sunday, February 20, 2011

Would you like some cheese with that ham?

Confession time: Even though I was a high school drama geek (with a fantastic drama teacher!), it's a very good thing that I never ended up on the stage.

Why? Because no scenery would be safe. People would be able to hear the OM NOM NOM from outside the theater, and the sets would bear toothmarks from my constant chewing.

In short, I am a total ham.

Someone ordered a LARGE HAM?
This hasn't changed as I've gotten older. I love making people laugh, I overly dramatize trivial events (the resident organist will back me up on this; he's had to suffer through announcements of "BEHOLD! I'm doing LAUNDRY!!!" more than once), and when I venture into role-playing games, I'm usually the one breaking out the amateur theatrics (just so long as they don't interfere with going all stabby on the monsters).

What I didn't realize was that this could be a side benefit to being an author.

For example, I've just now come home from attending Boskone, a Boston-based science fiction convention. Among other wonderful parts of the con (including some entertaining discussions, more questions about teeth than I ever thought could be posed in a non-dentally-oriented panel, and impromptu Grail theorizing), I had the privilege of reading aloud from one of my short stories.

I picked a story that's coming out this year, and I hammed it up. Big time. And it was a blast.

I've heard that authors are the worst people to read their work. I don't know if I agree -- I'm obviously biased on this count -- but I do know that I love reading it aloud. Hell, it's sometimes the only way I can approach old work; I might cringe at the lumpy prose if I'm just reading it on my own, but if it's part of a performance, then I really enjoy turning it into something new. Some of this is just my inherent hamminess coming through. But it's also a way for me to emphasize how these characters sound in my head, to communicate how strongly I hear their voices and translate some of that more directly.
Of course, the same tone doesn't work
for everything.  THIS SUMMER,

Reading one's own work aloud in draft form is an excellent way to see whether your prose holds together. But it's also a great way to start hearing the side characters, or to get a feeling for the pacing and tension of a scene. There's a reason I love to read from the tower scene in Wild Hunt or the masked gathering in Soul Hunt, and not just because they end with great cliffhanger moments. It's almost to the point where I'm hoping one particular short story will sell just so I'll have an excuse to read it aloud in all the different voices.

And, of course, this translates into reading other work aloud as well. (Seriously, if you can read Hippos Go Berserk without hamming it up, something's gone wonky.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go announce that the blog post is DONE! and strike a dramatic pose. (It's Sunday after a long and exhausting con. I think I'm allowed a dramatic pose or two.)


Sharon S. said...

LOL! I use to ham it up with my kids while reading bedtime stories. Dr. Seuss was good for that . I prefer the term "animated speaking" ;)

ThatBrunette said...

Brava! Brava! A little paint will cover up the teeth marks in the scenery.

nymfaux said...

Pleased to meet a fellow ham!!! (vegetarians must lead such sad lives!!!) ;)

I did drama in grade-school, though I twice played a turkey (Turkey Lurkey), not a ham.--I also played a triangle, a pumpkin, a robot, and a dictionary--The Dictionary had the best line ever:


Makes me wish you had a reading on the west coast, so I could go!--or a video on youtube? ;)

nymfaux said...

p.s. I am originally from Wisconsin, and I would LOVE some cheese with that!!!

Nicole Murphy said...

That's one of the things I miss about no longer teaching - not being able to do all the voices as I read (books like the Narnia series were particularly great for this - the kids used look forward to Aslan's appearance, although my throat didn't).

Margaret Ronald said...

Sharon, Dr. Seuss is absolutely perfect. Come to think of it, I wonder how many children's books I've memorized this way.

ThatBrunette, paint and gaffer's tape do wonders. At least...until the NEXT PERFORMANCE!! om nom nom

Nymfaux, that is the best line I've ever heard. Now I want to declaim it when I enter a room. I don't have any youtube videos up, but I'm hoping I'll make it to the West Coast sometime in the next year or so. And as for the cheese...cheese curds, perhaps? (I make it out to Wisconsin once a year, and fresh cheese curds are a tiny squeaky treat.)

Nicole, I owe so much to the teachers who read to our classes. My dad, too, read to us frequently, and still claims that we ruined his voice by asking for The Monster at the End of This Book. Lovable, furry old Grover is a little rough on the vocal cords.

nymfaux said...

@Margaret--You totally made my day!!!!--Will definitely keep an eye out for you out here!!

But it's so rare to find anyone outside of WI (and oddly Oregon), who know what cheese curds are and about their squeaky goodness!!!!

p.s. if you haven't already, make sure you try some of our fried cheese curds--similar to mozzarella sticks, but with all that cheese curd goodness!!!! (have also found that A&Ws carry them...but sometimes it's just as hard to find an A&W!)


Margaret Ronald said...

Blame my sister -- she worked in WI for a while, and told me I had to try them. Even though she'd warned me, I did not expect the squeaks.

Would that be A&W like the root beer? I vaguely remember a root beer stand in my hometown, complete with those little trays that clipped on to the driver's side window, but can't remember what the root beer was. (And I don't remember fried cheese curds there, but that may be because I was too young.)

nymfaux said...

:) Yay for sisters!!! But the squeaks are how you know it's fresh!!! (squeaky fresh) :)

I don't know which came first, the root beer or the restaurant, but the same--When I was growing up (in the '80s), we had an A&W restaurant, that was kind like an old sit-down restaurant/diner type food--then it got sold (although other than a change of owners, it's still exactly the same)--they kind of died out for a while. Then recently I've started seeing them again--but now they're more like fast-food type--burgers/hot dogs/fries--and fried cheese curds!

But they always had (and still have) frosted mugs for the root beer!!! :)