The first thing I learned in my college speech course was not to hide behind my notecards.
Which I did anyway.
Which gradually progressed to hiding behind people, larger objects, smaller objects, or my feigned inability to speak in general when it came to talking about my book or generally speaking to agent-like people.
My apprehension started when I was in middle school. Given, that was my crappy poetry phase (we all had one), and though I’ve come a LONG way from the writer I was then, one thing always stuck in the back of my mind: I was mocked. By my mother.
I’d printed out a poem one night, but the printer hadn’t worked. The next morning, my mother turned on the computer and there, out of the printer, came my poem. When I came home, she practically berated me, asking why I wrote “the same shit over and over” and “why couldn’t I write about happy things?” Said the woman obsessed with Stephen King.
I haven’t quite shaken that feeling of being inadequate, and it surfaces every time I try to speak about what I do and what I want to do.
When it comes to talking about my writing, those reactions get worse. I’m always terrified I’ll sound like an idiot or a psychopath. It’s hard sharing something so personal with people I don’t know well. I’ll mention I’m writing a book, but pretend I’m distracted so I can avoid telling the curious what it’s about. With The Killing Type almost finished (I know I’ve been saying that, but this time it’s true), I’m starting to feel that edge of panic again because after some (read: a lot) of edits, it’s time to start putting it, and myself, on display.
Becoming an author means I can’t hide behind my notecards anymore. I can’t let that old apprehension get to me. Of course, let’s overlook the fact that I’m sharing these deeply personal feelings on the internet. After all, I’m still hiding behind the computer.
The difference is in the writing community, those of us who come together through our separate journeys. I have a lot of support, from friends I’ve known for years to friends I just met a few days ago on Twitter, and it’s a system that works.
Maybe I’m still hiding behind my notecards, but it won’t last forever.