Part Two…Different subject

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I posted on my other blogs about the ongoing saga of the RV, so I won’t go into that part here. Instead, I’d like to talk a bit about book signings, speaking engagements, and meeting with fans. And what all that does to and for a writer when they first start out.

I was terminally shy when I first started writing. Not the kind of shy that makes people wall flowers, but the kind of shy that makes people aggressive. I know that doesn’t make sense on the surface, but bare with me. I knew I couldn’t hide behind my hair and still do the public part of the writer’s job, meeting booksellers, getting the word out about a book, all that kind of stuff.

So I flipped a mental switch and let fear come out as a sort of *in your face* friendliness. A car salesman on steroids. Wearing lots of jewelry. And a hat. Really.  I wore hats a lot. Hats are sort of like a costume, something you can hide behind and still attract attention. And the clothes and the firm handshake worked better than the total silence of fear. But the stress of that fake persona closed in on me and I couldn’t write for days after an event. The fear was still there.

Part of that was because I realized I still had nothing to say to the people I met.  So I scripted all sorts of possibilities. They say this, so I say that, and they do this, so I do that. I created a public personality for the character who was myself. It was like scripting an interactive scene for a book. And it worked.

The shyness, while still part of me, is rearranged inside me into an interactive scene — the scene I created to allowed me to put my fear of people aside and be a real person, friendly, kind, and all the things that lived inside me but were shoved deep inside by fear.

I … um … I wrote my way out of shyness.

Which brings me to the RV.  (Yeah, a writer’s mind puts all sorts of weird things together.) Writers travel a *lot*. We may be on the road for three months at a time with only short visits back home. Hubby and I used to have a station wagon for that, so we could bring our dogs along, and we stayed at a lot of Red Roof Inns because they allowed dogs. But it was stressful staying in hotels, and I always left stuff behind and the dogs got older and they didn’t like the travel so much because they had to stay in their travel crates all day…. Travel was difficult. My health suffered, my writer’s muse suffered.

So, like, seven years ago we bought our first RV. The RV became the place where we lived on the road. All our stuff was there and the dogs loved it and it was perfect. I never had to worry about losing stuff, because nothing ever got moved out.  And hey, I’m a woman.  A traveling closet was perfect.  My stress levels went way way way down.

With the stress down, the persona I had created became the real me… How weird is that? I wrote and rode my way into good mental health. Well, … better mental health. And less stress meant better physical health. Because of writing and because of the RV, I am healthier. And happier.

The problem? The new RV (yeah, we bought a new, used, one, bigger, better, with a slide) has been in the shop since the day we bought it. Stress levels are up…  I’m addicted to the RV!

So, back to my original premise — new writers may live in fear.  And we have to find ways to deal with that fear. 

Faith

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7 comments to Part Two…Different subject

  • Shyness has never been my problem. Rather, I deal constantly (still) with the fear that I’m actually a hack writer and that one of these days EVERYONE is going to wake up to this realization at the same time, bringing an abrupt end to this career I love so much. As it is, writers have to worry all the time about their sales, their sell-throughs, their earn-outs, etc., because in this business your career is only as secure as your last success. Add to that deep-seated professional insecurity and, well, I feel like I’m always one setback away from a crisis.

  • Your story reminds me so much of my dance life – being of the fluffy persuasion, I was terrified at the thought of dancing in front of people. It wasn’t until I danced at faire, under another persona, that I was able to let go and just move. Misty was afraid, but Mahisti was not. So I’m determined to apply that same skill to the upcoming signings.

  • Michele Conti

    I understand the fear there, but you really shouldn’t be frightened. Or worried. Or anything like that…

    People come to signings to see you, to meet you, you may not be as cut down in the media as movie stars but essentially you are celebrities.

    And while there may be a few nuts out there who go to those things just to cause trouble…that’s what security is for. :) Or, big fire-lit Frankenstein sticks. I like those…they’re helpful.

  • Hi Michele,
    The biggest problem at signings? No one shows. Goose-egg sales. Store is dead. All your promo failed. Big storm outside. Or whatever.

    That is when you have to turn on the charm and wow the booksellers. Which is hard to do when things are iffy.

    And…um…security? Unless I bring it myself (which I do) there is no security in a bookstore. I know writers who carry a baseball bat…
    Faith

  • Michele Conti

    Bring a puppy…everyone loves puppies, even people who hate dogs LOVE baby dogs….Or at least that’s what it seems like.

    Ouch, cat biting leg…not fun.

  • I *adore* puppies.
    That;s a great idea!
    I want a new puppy.
    Faith

  • Faith said:
    “I want a new puppy.”

    You can come over and play with mine! He comes home today.