Doing Scary Things

Saturday, November 09, 2019
I mostly write creative nonfiction for the Chicken Soup for the Souls anthology. Over the years I've been published in 16 of their collections, so I've enjoyed some success. However, I've tried to stray out of my comfort zone from time to time. I've dabbled in romance short stories (laughable--literally), flash fiction (something I want to do more of) and I've written several manuscripts. Only one completed book-wannabe has earned the right to see the light of day--it's currently being shopped around.

Dipping my toes into different genres isn't exactly scary, but it is challenging.

However, in mid November I will be a guest speaker fast talker at a local university event. I changed it to "fast talker" because I'm one of three speakers who will have 8 minutes to inspire the audience of teachers with my story about how my students transformed my writing and how my writing transformed my teaching practices.

I'm nervous. Not that talking in front of a group of people makes my palms sweat. I can talk to any group about anything and feel at ease. (If car repair was the topic, I'd fill the time up with detailing my ignorance, and probably even get some laughs from the audience.)

The reason why I'm apprehensive is because I'm sharing the journey my manuscript has taken me. I feel extremely connected to this story. Last summer I made a movie about my emptional rollercoaster and when I talked about it, I got teary.

I'm afraid I won't be able to convey how committed I am, how driven I am to get my manuscript published. I'm worried that the audience won't see how emotionally I'm connected to the main character and his story...

... which made me think of other things I've done that make me fret a bit.

  • Author Talks  I've been a participant in a couple of author talk sessions. What made me tense was this: Would my "part" fit in with the other participants' parts? I didn't want to hog up too much time or fill too little of the evening. I wanted to make sure I didn't repeat anything the others had already said or what others (who hadn't spoken yet) were planning on sharing. 
  • Book Events  The scary thing for me is getting out from behind the table and being a bit brazen about trying to convince people to buy one of my books. I'm not especially good at it.
  • Writing Critique Groups  This may seem like an odd thing to consider "scary," but I've been a member of the best critique group around. (You want to arm wrestle me over it? You think your group is the best? Come to St. Louis, roll up your sleeves and we'll fight it out.)  Over the years, some members have left and new ones have joined. I've started another group that meets less frequently (made of all teachers).  For me, it makes me figuratively bite my nails worrying about how the groups mesh. Sometimes writers come for just a session or two. How will they fit in with the others? Will we be able to give the writer what they need to polish the piece?
What about you? What is scary when it comes to writing/revising/sharing/marketing? Maybe we could shake hands over it, and swap some palm sweat...

Sioux Roslawski (on the left; on the right is her cruise partner) didn't get nervous when riding on inflatables around the coast of Iceland, but she does get nervous over the prospect of becoming a marketing marvel and a stellar salesperson... once her book is published. When will that be? Sioux's asking the same question but until then, you can check out her sporadic blog posts at Sioux's Page.


Cathy C. Hall said...

I come from a broadcasting background and yet I still get a wee bit nervous when I have to speak, Sioux. Especially if I'm speaking to my peers.

But I think that's okay; it keeps me on my toes. It's when I stop getting nervous that I'll know I don't care.

You care and that's special. I know you'll be great!

Renee Roberson said...

Working on developing my podcast is scary, scary stuff. I'm a perfectionist, and I don't like doing something where I can't come out of the gate with a polished product! I keep reading that the process is messy, and you have to take the plunge, even if it isn't perfect at first. But that's frightening! I know what makes a good podcast and I want to live up to my own expectations. Definitely have some sweaty palms over here!

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