Last weekend, I "performed" at The River's Family Music Meltdown & Book Bash (which was organized in part by Lunch Lady author Jarrett Krosoczka). In between musical acts, authors gave a book reading. It was a loud, fun & energy-packed event, with great authors and rock bands.
But it was also a bit challenging for me--not because the kids or people were rude, but because the venue was so large with so many other things going on (vendors & food in the back, lots of people walking around). Enormous crowds are not my forte.
But, I think I did okay. I've done so many school visits that I'm not really nervous onstage anymore. I was able to get about 30% of the audience's attention, which was still pretty good.
However, after me, came Mo Willems, who commanded 100% of the crowd with awe-inspiring mastery:
It was quite impressive. And it reminded me of Meghan's thoughts about talent and Libby's post about what it takes to succeed as a novelist. The truth is, I've worked and worked to become a better public speaker. And I've gotten much better at it. I'm proud of that. But when I see a speaker like Mo, I realize that no amount of practice will ever make me a public speaker like that. It is a pure talent that sets him apart.
Just as I feel when I am faced by another author's amazing book, it is impossible not to acknowledge a superior talent. But strangely, this doesn't cause me great despair nor will it stop me from continuing and trying to get better at it. I think Mo will always be a great speaker, in any environment, continually and without exception. Me, maybe, once and a while when all the right elements combine & I keep working at it, I feel I can get a glimpse of creating that myself. And that's enough.