Sign Me Up!

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In three days, I will be facing one of my greatest fears.

In three days, I am going to wake up in a cold sweat and probably spend a couple of hours fighting back nausea as my nerves go haywire. I’m pretty sure I’ll screw up my hair and end up with random pieces sticking up to do their own thing; I’ll probably jam the mascara wand in my eye while applying my make-up, too.

It’s a safe bet that at least one earring back is going down the drain or into my cleavage.  Either way, that sucker is going to be long gone, because I’m not going in after it in either place.

In three days, I’m doing my first book signing at my local library, and I’ve got to be honest: I’m almost praying for a power outage or possibly an alien abduction somewhere between now and then. Sure, I signed books at a booth during Octoberfest, but this is different.

I am terrified, but not for the reasons you might think.

If the only people who show up are my relatives, I’m going to laugh. Hey, more chocolate for me! If I sign only a handful of books, it’s okay; after all, I’ve already sold them to most of the people I know around here.  When all is said and done, I get to spend an hour and a half at a library with a very nice librarian, talking about books, drinking tea, and eating chocolate.

Successful book signing or not, that pretty much describes my perfect Saturday afternoon.

No, I’m not taking this little drive down Anxiety Lane by way of Panic Avenue because I’m afraid of poor attendance.  It’s not the where or what of the situation that’s got me gnawing off my fingernails; it’s the who. Specifically, me.

I don’t think I thought this whole author thing through. I like writing and telling stories. I enjoy being around people. I just don’t like being in front of people.  I sweat when I get nervous, and I start talking fast. I mean really fast. The first time I had to prepare a lecture for a classroom, I delivered forty minutes of material in just under nine minutes.

Nine minutes.

When I finished and looked out at my audience, this is what I saw:

"Did you catch any of that?"
“Did you catch any of that?”

I have a tendency to giggle when I’m nervous. And I blurt out things that I really have no reason to be blurting. You know that filter that some people have between their brain and their mouth? I don’t have one of those. Especially not when I’m nervous and giggling and talking too fast.

I’m reminded of the episode of Coupling when Jeff is so worried about an upcoming job interview that he panics about “accidental words” popping into his brain, causing him to blurt out “Thighs!” and “Vulva!” at really unfortunate moments.

I should probably not do that.

The truth is that I’m not sure I’m the kind of person who belongs in front of people. I’m overweight, middle-aged, and I only have one nice dress to wear to an occasion like this. I’ve got funny posture and my hands sort of flail about when I’m talking. I don’t even like putting my picture on my Author Profile page – in fact, for a long time my profile picture was a shot of the stump of the tree that fell on me. Seriously, that says an awful lot right there: I hate my picture so much that I’d rather shine the spotlight on the tree that bounced off my head four years ago.

Lovely picture of me, eh?
Lovely picture of me, eh?

All kidding aside, I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do this in my own town for the first time.  If it goes well, I may approach a few other libraries about doing it again. I understand that it’s necessary to put myself out there as part of any marketing campaign, and I think I’m probably going to end up really enjoying myself once I get over being nervous.

As long as I don’t suddenly blurt out “Penis!”

What about all of you?  Do you get nervous about making public appearances? Are you comfortable attaching your picture to your work, and if so, how did you get to that point? If not, what would it take to get you there?

****

This post was written as part of the Insecure Writers Support Group.

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26 thoughts on “Sign Me Up!

  1. You are a professional writer and i am just a blog. I was afraid of stage but once my friend told me that no one is perfect and at least you have the courage to face your fear. You are fabulous writer i read your articles. I am one of your fan.
    Thank you for sharing your thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You could have been describing me: I’m exactly the same! Plus, I’d be nipping to the loo every 15 seconds! Just breathe, smile sweetly, and everything will be fine. I always find that things I’m dreading turn out far better than I feared. Good luck and congratulations.

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  3. I laughed out loud when I read your post. Now I am picturing you at the library blurting out all sorts of inappropriate things, but you won’t. You’ll be fine. I don’t worry about saying the wrong words; I worry about forgetting important words, like my name and the title of my book, and the characters names.

    I think a library is a great place to ease your way into doing readings. Library patrons tend to be very nice people. Someone gave me some very good advice when I started doing readings and was fussing about what to wear and my middle-aged-housewife haircut. They said that people underestimate women in the middle of their lives, and that is why we can get away with so much. You are going to wow those library patrons with your brilliance!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bless your heart! You’ve absolutely made my day. I worry about forgetting important things too, or signing my real name instead of my pen name. But I like the theory that I can get away with so much more because people underestimate me. Hmm . . .

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  4. First of all, you are exactly the right kind of person to be in front of others. You and all your imperfections show the world just how to be you, a fabulous you, without any pretense. You are living your dream, now go embrace it. Remember, they are coming to see you, to learn from you, to buy your book. You are doing something that most people only dream of doing. You actually DID it. That is HUGE. One note of caution, however. People have been known to wear miss matched shoes and/or earrings to these events. Look down, check your feet. Glance in the mirror. Then, tell yourself, You look fabulous, you successful, author, you!
    Play off the Page

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the encouragement. And I have something even better than a mirror: I’ve got a teenage daughter whose greatest responsibility is making sure I’m presentable before I walk out the door!

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  5. don’t give yourself ideas of those accidental words 🙂 who knows how deeply they can get stuck in your subconsciousness 😉
    having said that – good luck and go get them! 😀

    p.s. as to that earring? that can be your “thing” you know? 😀 statement, style etc. 😉

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  6. I smiled when I read your post because I understand where you’re coming from.
    Am I comfortable attaching my picture? No.
    Well you probably figured that one out when you saw my hot air balloon avatar. 🙂

    I’m sure everything will run smoothly!
    Remember to have FUN! 😀
    Writer In Transit

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  7. You’ll do fine, A.J. A good friend & author told me at my first signing that if I sold one book consider it a success. You’ll probably sell more.

    Best wishes.
    IWSG #108

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  8. I had to smile because you could have written this about me a few years ago. Now I just love public speaking and even teaching. Honestly I still talk too fast but I’m practicing. Try to relax, hold something in your hand ( a pen, paper clip) something that reminds you to take a breath and slow down. Practice breathing and speaking:)
    Mostly just have a good time and be you. The audience will love you for you. If all else fails do questions and answers, invite conversation verses ‘a speech.’
    Good luck!

    Like

    • That’s some really good advice. I like the idea of holding something in my hands to help me stay focused. And I was planning to do sort of a Q&A at the end if I end up with too much time left over after I speed-talk. Thanks for the suggestions!

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  9. I love small groups, and I especially love one-on-one interactions. But I hate speaking in front of a crowd (let’s call it more than 10 people, especially if I don’t know them). I have the shaky hands and nervous, glitchy voice.

    I find if I can move around I do better; it eases my nerves.

    Wishing you much luck and no earrings in weird places. 🙂

    My IWSG Post

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  10. First, thank you for making my day. You are hilarious. That said, this upset me;

    “I’m not sure I’m the kind of person who belongs in front of people. I’m overweight, middle-aged, and I only have one nice dress to wear to an occasion like this.”

    Don’t impose your self-disdain on other people and tell them that you don’t deserve to be seen. That’s you, not them. Because I want to see and talk to someone funny and smart and driven (and it’s clear that you’re all of those things). So there. Don’t be mean to you. You don’t deserve it.

    The truth is you’re worthy to be in front of people, flailing hands, mild Tourette’s and all. You have stories to tell and a unique way to tell them and that makes you more interesting than than a great majority of the people out there. Be proud of you. All of you, the jiggly bits and the aging bits. The neurotic ones and the loving ones. You are made all the more interesting for every single thing about you that isn’t perfect.

    Get a cute dress. Go drink some tea and know that you were born worthy to do whatever it is that lifts you up and even more worthy to do the things that frighten you.

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  11. I can totally relate to your anxiety. But here’s the good news – it gets easier every time. Yes, you’ll be nervous – your heart will be racing, I guarantee it. But you’ll be nervous and having heart palpitations for something you love! I’ll take that any day over having those physical responses because of something out of my control. Make this day all about you! Writing a book is a monumental achievement, and you deserve to have the spotlight. That’s half the reason book signings interest people – because it’s not every day you meet someone who has actually written one! You’ll probably be up early that day – use it to your advantage. Go for a nice walk, or sit on the porch swing with a cup of coffee. Most importantly – relax! Whether you have a standing-room only crowd or it’s just you and librarian, it’s going to be a great day, and you’re going to do fine. You have a lot of people rooting for you! Good luck!

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