Sign Me Up!


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.