Performance, Part 2: Doing It

Performance, Part 2: Doing It


Leonard Zwelling

The anticipation was over. The day had arrived for my first performance in years without a golf club in my hand. I was to present to a group of about 25 in a private home. It was to introduce my new novel and see if I could make the evening both entertaining and lucrative, by selling a few books.

I was surprisingly calm on the outside, but very nervous because the presentation depended upon some computer technology to go right and for the credit card scanning device Square to operate smoothly if I was going to be able to take credit cards as payment.

My co-author and I were all prepared to begin once people arrived, but they chose to linger and chat which was fine with us. Then, they began buying books. Lots of books. We almost sold out what we had with us which was a pleasant surprise given that we hadn’t even begun to market the plot yet.

We finally did begin and indeed the AV equipment malfunctioned when we tried to show a two-minute summary film called a rip-o-matic that had been made years ago to market our story to film producers in Canada. No one bought the story then, but now that it’s a novel, we may give it another try.

The rest of the presentation went fine. The allegorical lines between the siege of Masada in 73 AD and the Houston Masada Hospital where the story takes place held up and we chose movie stars to portray our main characters which gave people a laugh. Now, when they read the book they’ll see Julianna Margulies and Bradley Cooper in starring roles.

What was so interesting to me was the ease into which I slipped into my performance mode. I became hyperaware of what I was doing. Time slowed, yet I was unhurried. It was just like giving the many talks I had given over the years from my molecular pharmacology research, to the hour-long explanation of the making of ObamaCare, to my own take on conflict of interest that led to the novel. It was like riding a bicycle. I was back on stage and it was as if I had never left—with one great difference. I no longer felt that my entire ego and being were on the line. I actually had sufficient self-awareness to enjoy the moment and when the moment was over, I left wanting no more.

There have been suggestions that I take the show on the road and try to sell a few books. Good idea. We will be part of the ERJCC Book Fair on Sunday, November 5 where we hope to sell a few more, but whether I take it further will depend upon whether I perceive this to have been a performance for the purpose of fun. Our guests seemed to enjoy themselves. That was important to me. That we had a major glitch didn’t seem to matter to anyone—even to me.

This performance was unlike any I had given in the past. It was less intense. More fun and a bit more laid back. This was a different kind of performance for me. It may not be the last of its kind.

Dr. Zwelling’s new novel, Conflict of Interest: Money Drives Medicine and People Die is available at:,

on amazon if you search using the title and subtitle,


directly from the publisher Dorrance at:

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