My Ice Breaker Speech

05 Dec
December 5, 2018

Last week, I gave my Ice Breaker Speech at Toastmasters. It went well enough that I won Best Speaker for the night and garnered a lot of praise and good feedback. So, I thought I would at least share the text:

I’m Just A Writer

Fellow Toastmasters, and honored guests. Before I tell you about me, I’d like to tell you about a friend of mine – Mark. If you saw him on the street, you wouldn’t even notice him. Average height, average build, average face, average brown hair. Behind that plain facade, however, he is a most unusual person. Most of the people who know him say he’s brash and obnoxious. He’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder. You might as well if you were ripped away from one family to a new new family that calls you an abomination. This pushes Mark to be the best there is at what he does. What does he do? He’s an assassin. And he’s a werewolf. No, Mark is not a flesh and blood person, but he’s still very real to me. As real as everyone here. Don’t worry, I’m not crazy, I’m just a writer.

If you ask me what I do, I’ll say “I’m a data analyst.” I love my day job. It’s the perfect mix of routine and complex tasks. Plus, it pays the bills. On the other hand, if you ask me what I am, I’ll tell you – I’m a writer. A storyteller. A spinner of tales. I create fantastic worlds inhabited by amazing people. I tell stories of adventure, action, drama, war, and occasionally romance. Some of my stories are pulpy, some are more grounded in realism, but all are designed to do one thing – entertain. Even if the only person I’m entertaining is myself.

I will say my writing has, shall we say, enhanced some quirks. For example, you shouldn’t worry if you hear me talking to myself. Often, I’m just running dialogue. How else will I know if it sounds natural if I don’t hear the words? I can live with the occasional odd look if my characters sound right. After all, I’m not really hearing voices, I’m just a writer.

My other interests complement and feed my writing. Let’s take history for example. Dan Carlin, often comments on his Hardcore History podcast that if you want to see how humans will react to any situation, look at history. The width and breadth of human civilizations are a fertile ground for any writer looking for inspiration. Want to have an idea of how people will act if aliens invaded? Look at what happened when to the Chinese and Muslim empires when the Mongols burst from the steppe. My interest in armed combat help me frame and write action scenes that are somewhat realistic, even if the setting is fantastic. Then there’s the soundtrack for writing. Some of it’s modern stuff – power metal, rock, and techno, some that date back centuries. So, if you hear me singing something in an archaic or unusual language, I’m not channeling spirits, I’m just a writer.

Can you imagine what’s the first question people ask when I tell them I’m a writer? “What have you published?” Patrick Rothfuss, who actually is a successful writer, said that writing is one of the only hobbies where you’re considered a failure unless you’re a professional. I’ll admit to some fear of rejection, and also of the marketing slog to get my works out there. For now, I’m content to pluck away at my keyboard, working hard to translate the pictures in my head to words on the screen. Sometimes that doesn’t go as smoothly as I’d like. Don’t worry though, it’s a frustration I’ve learned to live with. After all, I’m a writer.

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