Auto Draft

So every one’s been asking me to tell all about THE BOOK EVENTS. What is it like to put yourself in front of real, live, authentic Pacific Northwest readers???

It is intimidating. I must admit that although I am not usually nervous about public speaking — I mean really: are you kidding? There is nothing I desire more than an audience, because of that whole tree-falls-in-a-forest-and-there’s-nobody-to-hear-it thing. (Hint: I’m the tree, dying to fall with a huge BOOM in earshot of my thousand or so worst enemies, just to piss them off.)

Anyhoo, where was I?

Right: Me not being nervous about public speaking due to my enormous narcissism. And how entirely nerve-wracking it is when to have to speak in front of the Gold Standard of Readers and Coolness that is the Great Pacific Great Northwest, compared to my usual yammering here on the Eastern Seaboard. Oh yes, dear blog readers; I was hugely nervous about each and every damn talk that I had to give, each and every day of my Great Pacific Great Northwest Tour.

My outing to Discovery Park in Seattle is typical of my “down time” in Seattle.

Discovery Park is a 534 acre natural area park , the largest city park in Seattle. The site is one of breathtaking majesty.  

Situated on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound, Discovery Park offers spectacular view of both the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges. The secluded site includes two miles of protected tidal beaches as well as open meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest groves, active sand dunes, thickets and streams.

Not that I saw any of this….Nooooooooo.

Because by the time Top Cat and I figured out how to get to Discovery Park (we were headed there at 11 o’clock in the morning from our motel in the University area, thinking we were driving our rental car east-ish, only to discover that whoa! We were barreling due south towards Pioneer Square! Which meant that we parked and moseyed around Pioneer Square for an hour and then got lost on our quest to see the International District, AKA “Chinatown”, which is like one freaking block from Pioneer Square don’t ask…so we ended up at the REI Home Office instead and had to ponder that 50-foot indoor rock climbing thing etc., etc., etc.) it was the middle of the afternoon and I had to review my notes for my talk that evening.

I was working on this Great Pacific Great Northwest Tour you see: so although I was familiar with my program (having written it myself, and all) I could not, in the land of Nancy Pearl, give a half-assed rendition of my Raison d’Etre as a writer…so I had to study my notes over and over before each talk.

Which meant that when Top Cat sauntered out into the wilds of Discovery Park to witness those astonishing vistas of Puget Sound and the surrounding mountains, I was sitting in the car with my loose leaf binders, going over the text that I had to present that night:

This is what I saw of Discovery Park. And Volunteer Park. And Rattlesnake Mountain. And a lot of the Oregon Coast. And the Pearl District of Portland.

Whether or not my preparations were in vain is something I can let you dear readers decide for your own selves.

Sally McPherson of Broadway Books in Portland made a tape of my talk at her fine little independent book store on May 24. (I didn’t know she was taping me . Yeah, I saw the microphone, but thought it was a prop since it didn’t seem to amplify my voice which, by that time — my last event after nine days on the road — was very ragged and oh, so painful, and a bit higher-pitched than my usual tone.) This is the first time I’ve ever seen myself on tape.

Sally wrote:  

I expected Vivian Swift to be cool because her book is so great. But she knocked my socks off when she spoke here. She spoke about traveling, about staying put, about learning your city, about making art, about wearing fleece, about watching sunsets and hugging trees, and just a whole bunch of stuff.  It hurt to edit her talk down to less than 15 min, but here it is!

If this link doesn’t work, try finding it on Facebook:

Does my hair look wierd? Is it me, or do I not move my top lip when I speak? What’s that strange accent I have, with those heavy R‘s? Can you tell that I wished I’d popped a throat lozenge in my mouth before I started my yakking? Do I have eyebrows? Am I that funny-looking in person, or is it the lighting? I should use lipstick, shouldn’t I? Do I need elocution lessons? Do I talk too fast? Too slow? Oh, Jesus: do I sound as stupid to you as I do to me???

13 comments to The Great Pacific Great Northwest Tour, Part Two

  • You were great! I sat here watching your video and drinking a mid-morning cup of tea and thoroughly enjoying your talk. And that fleece – that would go down well around here.
    PS Don’t bother about the lipstick and all that other stuff. Your are just fine as you are!

  • How can you look THAT good and be 54? It’s not fair.
    You were great. At ease, prepared, informed/ informative. Just the ticket.
    Wish we had more. Can you tape the next talk?

  • Shelley

    I was there and you were fabulous. I could have easily listened to you for another hour, or however long you were willing to keep talking! It was an honor to meet you, and I would not have missed it for anything.

    I was so impressed with your easy speaking manner, your humor, and what you shared absolutely inspired me to get out, walk, look around, and pay attention to the fascinating details of life in our own neighborhoods (although I doubt I’ll ever find such amazing stuff as you have, like pancakes in a parking lot!)

    I haven’t had a chance to watch the video yet, but can’t wait til after work to see it.

    Please come to Portland again for the Damn France book tour!

  • Deborah

    Your hair does not look weird. I just finished a novel by one of my favorite novelists, and it included an updated photo of her — and her hair looked weird! Yours doesn’t. You look great, and you sound great. Please, please add Louisville to your great American book tour for that Damn France Book! Louisville does have the French connection, after all. Fleur-de-lis is its symbol.

  • Watched the video, you come across just fine. In fact you come across as smart and snappy and caring (funny not snarky), and engaged with life in so many great ways. Seems like you had a happy crowd there, judging from the chuckles emanating from the audience. Hope you sold lots of copies of your book and got everyone excited about reading the next one!

  • Shelley

    I am also eagerly awaiting information on how to join the New American Tea Culture Society (New Cultured Americans Tea Society ~ New CATS?) I’m seeing a watercolor tea drinking cat on the logo!

    Of course, “cultured Americans” is not only bad grammar but probably an oxymoron to boot, but it makes a good acronym!

  • Susie

    What excitement to get to see you talking, ya know, almost like being there in person! So confident, so friendly and approachable, if I had been there, I would have wanted to hug you after. Is that OK? It would be nice to see ALL of it….

    And to learn how you did your book and how to do stories and listen to your reading, everything….I had my cup of tea while watching and I think I didn’t taste a drop. Yet watching you made it one of the best cups of tea I’ve ever had. Yes, I mean that, I’m not really brown nosing.

    I’ll never be a writer, my grammar keeps me in the gutter but I feel inspired!

    Vivian, you’re sitting on a gold mine….Vivian Swift clothes (don’t we all want that bathrobe coat?), Vivian Swift Trisket papers, DVDs on how you did it-creative writing, watercolors, public speaking, travel….an exclusive club, on-line to be accessible to all.

    Just what you need, more to do….

    New Cultured Americans Tea Society, yes! Is it up for a vote?

  • Vivian , your hair is fabulous and so were/are you!

  • JOAN

    Oh my! How I loved being able to WATCH and HEAR you…sounded great and looked wonderful…loved the robe/jacket, the color is perfect for you.

    You came across as I hoped you would…funny, witty, just like I had you pictured in my mind…

    I hope you make it out west again and closer to my home (Las Vegas, NV…maybe on the That Damned France book tour?

  • Rachel

    Vivian, what a DELIGHT. I loved seeing this small speck of your talk and hope that someday I can see you give the whole thing in person. All of that preparation certainly paid off since you came across as informal, witty, knowledgeable, charming, artistic, a real author, and one hell of a gal. We were out in the park sketching this morning and wish you could have been there with us. there was pie. Thanks for posting,

  • Tracey

    Just watched your video while drinking tea. You are a great speaker and I suspect encouraged your listeners to go create. Now that the Damn France book is done, I expect a tea book next.

  • I loved the talk, you looked great. It was so cool to see you in motion!! Thanks…


  • Your talk was great and you LOOK FABULOUS.(just watched the video on youtube) I’m now doubly sorry we didn’t meet up in Washington at the Rally for Sanity.
    Nancy and I felt we were almost there with you in Portland when you showed the craft catalog (in which we had a small part). Your talk was truly inspiring. I’m going to get started painting in my new journal- (thanks again for gifting me with it).I always have such a hard time in a new journal because I don’t want to mess it up.
    There really was something even more inspiring about all your great hints when seeing you on the video. Yes I think a fortune awaits you.

You must be logged in to post a comment.