My first gig was in a bar. A little magazine, which died thereafter, thought that an early story of mine would entertain the patrons. So I climbed onto a chair, and, unseen in the smoke and inaudible in the din, declaimed to an audience who heard nothing except the crack as one leg of the chair collapsed and the thud as I was projected onto the chest of a very fat man. One guy did clap — he thought it was part of the act.
My career as Literary Figure proceeded through the decades from unattended readings at bookstores, poorly attended ones at libraries, better attended ones at writing conferences, and one overflow crowd at a literary festival. At that event I preceded the headliner, David Sedaris. There was excitement, I discovered, in speaking to a hushed house in a darkened theater — even if the the listeners were merely tolerating me, the forgettable opener.