A. Writing is the perfect occupation for someone who’s shy or introverted or insecure because she can hide behind her words.
B. Writing is the worst-possible occupation for someone who’s shy or introverted or insecure because, if she hopes to be successful, she has to open herself up to strangers, maybe even in public.
C. All of the above.
Yeah, we all know C is correct, the ying and yang of authordom.
For a long time, the release of my first book coming in April 2012 was a remote, nebulous thing. People even stopped asking when it would come out because a 24-month lag time between contract and release is too long a time to comprehend in this digital day and age.
A year passed between final revisions and copyedits. Cover blurbs from other authors who were kind enough to read the manuscript trickled in. Publisher catalog copy went through. Then, a couple of months ago, things started to pick up. Final page proofs. A cover. Library of Congress info to approve. An honest-to-God hold-it-in-my-hands ARC. Even early revisions and catalog copy on book two.
Still, it felt nebulous. The ARCs of Royal Street still haven’t gone out. No one has reviewed it except a couple of beta readers—plus a woman in Australia who couldn’t possibly have seen it yet rated it one star on Goodreads (she has since been removed, along with her offensive star).
Then one day, oh-em-gee. I had a freakin’ publicist. A few bookstores as far as Portland and Los Angeles had requested author events based on the catalog (are they insane?). I said, “Cool!” then stuck my head in the sand up to my shoulders, hoping to sniff up enough sand to suffocate me and end my growing panic.
See, I hide behind my words. Need a blog? I’m your girl. Want to chat by IM or email? I’m there. Teach an online course? No problemo.
Need me to stand in front of a group of people larger than two and actually string words together? Perform like a literate, entertaining author? God forbid, read something I've written? Not so much.
I’m not really shy, but I have that rather-die-than-do-public-speaking disease, and I’m extremely insecure. I don’t know—maybe that is shyness.
What can I say? Why would anyone care? All the old ghosts rise up to tell me I’m too old—closer to rage against the dying of the light than rage against the machine. I’m too round. My voice is too shaky. I have a hillbilly-goes-to-New-Orleans accent. I hate flying (can I drive to the west coast?), and have arthritic feet that don't like to walk much less run through airports. What if people realize I’m really just faking it—that I’m a journalist, not a novelist, and therefore have misrepresented myself? This whole novel thing is a fluke.
Suddenly, it all seems more scary than exciting. It seems not-so-nebulous anymore. It seems real.
Okay, I’ve worked myself into a lather. Going to peace out now. I figure I have five or six more months to develop a backbone and thicken my skin. Or hire someone to pretend to be me. Or snort a lungful of sand.