In her guest post on the Chicks last week, talented author Julie Hennrikus shared some insights about moving past our fears. She posed a question that got me thinking. Do we push ourselves on a regular basis to do things we didn’t think we could do?
I’m not as brave as my protagonist Liv McKay, who plans killer parties while tracking down murderers. And I’m a bit of a lightweight compared to Julie who pushed herself into completing a half-marathon! But I have surprised myself since finally getting published 21 months ago.
As an author, I was overjoyed to finally be published. (Something that was a long time coming for me, as for many writers). There’s a certain amount of fear knowing I’m now contractually obligated to write the second (and third and fourth…) book in a series. A certain amount of self-doubt still creeps in when I face a blank page and blinking cursor.
But for me the bigger fear—the thing I didn’t think I could do—was promoting my book. Doing presentations and book signings. You know, actually talking to and in front of live people. I’m much more comfortable sitting at the computer, talking to my imaginary friends, er…characters.
My husband, who knows me well and for more than thirty years, told me a few months after the first book came out that he was surprised, and impressed, to see me push myself so far outside my comfort zone to promote the book. It seems my fear of not selling any books is greater than my fear of public speaking and interaction, if only marginally. But even I can tell I’ve gained some new confidence. Listening to the recording of my first radio interview, I sound profoundly nervous. In my second radio interview, I sound a little less nervous. Less nervous is a good thing because, as my husband notes, I talk in slow motion when I’m nervous. (Part of this, I think, is I’m worried some people won’t understand my Southern accent, so I hyper enunciate).
Despite a bit of newfound moxie, I remain socially awkward and prone to embarrassing moments. Case in point. At my literary agency’s reception at Malice Domestic this year, I managed to accidentally brush my hand across a picked over plate. A napkin wasn’t adequate, so I may have made use of an extra water glass as a finger bowl. (Author Barbara Early may have suggested this, but I’m not placing blame. I’m more than capable of embarrassing myself without any help). As I was pulling my fingers out of the glass I noticed my agent, at the other end of the table, looking at me and shaking her head. (You’ll note I didn’t say she looked surprised. For that matter, neither did any of the dozen authors at the table).
I used to be terrified in social situations and couldn’t have imagined hawking my book in front of a crowd of strangers. Now I do it—and sometimes even enjoy it. There was a time I doubted that I’d ever find an agent. Now, not only do I have an agent, but I can embarrass myself in front of her and laugh about it. Sort of. So, no matter what you think you cannot do, chances are you can do it if you truly want to. (Although I still can’t fold fitted sheets. But I’m at peace with that).
Share a proud moment when you pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone, or one you’re working up the courage to tackle.