WEBCAM IS A GREAT SPEAKING COACH
I bought a webcam a few years ago to help my children cope with my husband’s new job. His company had given him a wonderful opportunity, but it came with an extended assignment out of the country. The webcam was supposed to keep our family in touch. And it did for a while. The novelty of seeing each other’s faces from a thousand miles away quickly faded, but the webcam became much more than a high-tech toy.
It didn’t interest me much, this camera on my computer. My husband and I are old enough, have been married long enough, to remember what one another look like. If it weren’t for the kids, we could have gotten along just fine with the phone. (I was even a little worried my mother would find out we had this magical device and want to settle in for a daily morning video chat!) We bought the webcam mainly for the kids. At seven and nine, the two weeks in between their father’s trips home seemed too long to go without interacting with him “face-to-face.” Turned out they coped better than we thought. Soon the webcam joined other electronic rejects in a plastic bin filled with unused adapters, archaic drives and mystery cords.
I forgot about the webcam until I signed up for a writing conference. As part of my registration, I was entitled to meet with an agent—a real-life subway-taking publishing insider from New York City! What an amazing opportunity. All I had to do was come up with a perfectly polished pitch to convince the agent that my book was a bestseller, that I was destined to become Oprah’s next favorite author.
I needed practice. A whole lot of practice.
Family and friends can only take so much before they ask you to please change zip codes, and kindly take your manuscript with you. But a webcam does not judge. A webcam does not tell you you’re wonderful just to get you to shut up. A webcam shows you in startling clarity how ridiculous you look when you roll your eyes. A webcam will listen to your story over and over (and over) until you get it right.
Did I sell my novel at that conference? No. I’m still practicing. Which is why I still have and love my webcam. (Please don’t tell my mother.)