I remembered an important lesson this week.
Even in writing, the old saying "the customer is always king" still applies.
I was giving a talk at Bodmin Library as part of World Book Night. This is one of the librarians introducing me -
I'd prepared a talk with my usual mix of writing insights and anecdotes, but only got about fifteen minutes in, a third of the way through, when someone asked a question.
I had the sense plenty of others also had things they wanted to raise, so asked the group if they would prefer we just had a chat.
That seemed to be the view, and so we did - and it was great. We covered such a huge range of topics, from the importance of the first line of a book, to how to build characters, tips on getting published, even some of my dreadful writing jokes.
It was a real joy and thanks to everyone who came along for such a great evening.
It was refreshing for me, not to mention challenging, to do a talk in a very different way. And I think the audience liked it because they got to hear about the specifics they were interested in.
As I drove home, I promised myself that at future talks I would take care to try to get a sense of what the audience wanted early and adapt accordingly.
Ok, it means diverting from the script, sometimes flying by the seat of your pants and making it up as you go, but it's much more fun that way - and it's far more like real life, too.