This month, the CW blog-chain gang is posting about writing-related things that put us outside of our comfort zone. Oh, my. Where do I start?
Perhaps with the day I found the CW site. I was so proud of my accomplishment–I had finished writing a book! How many others could say the same? Well, tons actually. But I took my arrogant self into the forums to share with others my bountiful knowledge of novel creation.
That’s when I found out I knew diddly-squat about writing. I didn’t dare share my “knowledge” in there because I’d receive a well-deserved horse laugh.
Or what about my first time submitting my manuscript for critique. Or the first time I submitted to a nation-wide contest. Ack! Maybe this post should be titled, “My Most Embarrassing Writer Moments.”
All that’s behind me now, and as a two-time finalist in the Genesis contest, I feel I’ve gained some credibility as a writer. What’s pulling me outside my comfort zone now is the self-promotion part of the business. Building up a platform of followers outside my family and friends. I must be doing something right, because I’ve been invited to speak to two writers’ groups. I’d been asked to speak once before, but turned the invitation down. At that time, I had absolutely nothing to offer.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that this time I do. First, I still have a lot to learn about writing and that’s only slightly mitigated by the fact that I believe everyone does, I don’t care how well-known or widely published they are. Second, you never know who you’ll be speaking to. Big deal–I’m a two-time finalist. I may be speaking to a roomful of Genesis winners for all I know. What do I have to offer?
Back in the day, when I stood on the stage alone before a crowd, I wore the confidence that comes from youth. Even in my thirties, when I sang for the church, I was fairly confident. But that was nigh unto twenty years ago, and my confidence had been circling the drain until my most recent experience of being before a crowd (recounted toward the end of “Another Busy Week“). After that fiasco, hilarious though it was, my confidence zipped down the sewer and is now sinking in the oil-soaked Gulf.
Yet I’d stand and sing before a packed stadium of half-drunk college kids before I’d speak to a small intimate group of strangers.
There’s something about actually being able to see the eyes looking at me, something about knowing that my usual tricks to hide my nervousness will be clearly visible to folks sitting not five feet from me, that scares the beeswax outta me. I can do it. I’ve had to. I’m on the board of directors of the food bank where I volunteer a few times each month, and my role is to pass to the volunteers things we discuss at the board meetings. I’m the “liasion.” I get nervous in front of them, but at least I know them.
When the time comes for me to address the strangers in these writer’s groups, I’ll be so far out of my comfort zone Rand McNally won’t be able to get me back. But I’ll do it.