Please put your hands together for...the introverted author!

I've decided that I'm a performer.  It all makes perfect sense now.  That's why I am scared to death to meet strangers, but I have no problem being in front of strangers if they stay...strangers.

In high school and junior high I loved being in plays.  I sold Avon for years, and had quite a large customer base, if I do say so myself.  I've thrown tons of bridal and baby showers and birthday parties.  Want me to volunteer somewhere? No problem.  Stand in front of a group of people and give a seminar?  I don't think I'd give it a second thought.  All of those things involve meeting mainly large groups of people -- always on my terms.  But tell me I'm going to meet someone new, and even worse, that there's only a few people, and I totally and completely freak out.  Because that makes it personal. Which is scary. Personal and performance are two totally different things.  Keep this in mind as I tell you what happened to me earlier this evening.

For the past month or so, I have been trying to get together with a few local authors that I found via the internet.  I haven't met them yet, though we've been trying to get together for a while.  A few weeks ago one of the authors was nice enough to inform me about a local published author speaking at the library here in town tonight.  She thought going would benefit me, and I did too.

Now let me just say that my normal modus operandi is to plan on something like that up until hours before, and then flake (or freak) out and not go.  That day always ends up being insane (and today was) and I use that to help me feel better about not going.

Today I refused to give in to my usual routine.  I stood in the bathroom all sweaty and stressed tonight after warming up left-overs for dinner (while getting to hear complaints about this or that, not to mention yelling at the kids to "Please leave some for your dad!") and visiting with a friend for a bit.  I tried to start my flat iron a thousand times (no matter how many times I punched the breaker and turned on the iron over and over again -- for some reason, the light wouldn't go on). 

Then I decided to try something different and plugged in my curlers. What-do-ya-know, they worked just fine.  After going to an outlet on the opposite side of the house and testing the flat iron (yes, of course it turned on) I went back into my room and plugged it in again for about the tenth time, and the light lit up immediately. (What the?)

So back to the sweaty and stressed part.  I stood there trying to do my hair.  Curlers? Or flat iron?  Curlers. No...flat iron. Wait....  I finally decided the flat iron would make me less sweaty than the curlers.   After doing my hair and getting dressed (amidst kids coming in and out -- one had a hurt ankle and was crying, another was working on a book report, and the other was bugging the one who was trying to do a book report before finally deciding to tell me the events of her day in great detail and at an even greater decibel) I started doing my makeup.  At that point my brain was screaming "Don't go! Don't go! Don't go!" but I'm so proud of myself -- I ignored it.

I sat outside for a few minutes to cool off and contemplated not going again.  Five minutes after the event was supposed to begin, I got into the car.  (Being on time is never my strong suit anyway.)  I blared my ipod all the way there to get myself pumped. I can do this. I can do this!  I. Can. Do. This.

Parking turned into a small feat for some reason, but after the fourth try I finally parked in the stall correctly (nerves, I'm telling you), and forced myself to get out (Sanitizer? Check!  Cell phone? Check!  Purse? Yes in deedy!) and walk down the long sidewalk to the library's front doors.

One deep breath and I was opening the door.  And of course this huge whoosh of air blew over me as I walked in (air conditioner?  Psycho winds?  Little devil flying over to land on my shoulder and scream "Don't go in!" one more time? I dunno) -- my hair went flying everywhere and all onto my lip gloss.  But I kept walking.  And let me just tell you, my readers -- I'm glad I did.  

If you're wondering what I did next, I really didn't do anything.  I snuck in as discreetly as possible and sat in the back where no one could see me.  Then I listened. I listed to this woman and mother and wife tell her story of queries and refusals and queries and more refusals, and self-publishing when she gave up on the queries, and then I listened to her talk about finding a publisher. And getting a deal.  A five book deal.  

I found myself excited FOR her.  Happy for this person I'd never met.  Excited and proud for this person who'd decided one day to write for fun, who had only a few short years later made a name for herself, able to stand there in our library and say that she had a publisher and an editor and that her next book was coming out in a few months.  

To be honest, it was just downright inspiring.  Not from a "okay I'm totally going to do this and be fine and get a five book deal too" point of view, because I know it's not that easy, and the likelihood of that happening to me as well is very small.  It was more along the lines of inspiring because she did something she loved and had an absolutely wonderful result.

I can't wait to be that person.  At the rate I've been going lately it may be years from now, but I do want to be that person.  Someone who can stand up in front of people and speak/perform in front of a bunch of strangers (which will work out great, because that's what I do well) and my loved ones and say "I am an author!  And I'm published!"  It's going to be awesome.  I can't wait to have my family sitting there in the back of the room, with the same proud smiles on their faces.  

This will happen, my dear readers. In time.  Someone will say, "Put your hands together for Jessica Brooks!".  I will stand there holding the microphone, after the usual insane day, and tell my story.  And hopefully someone else will be inspired.


Kate said...

I am jealous. I wish I was a performer. My trouble is seeming calm but being given away by awful blushing.

Kate x

Bonnie said...

I believe you'll get there! Great job on mustering up the courage to not freak out / flake out...sounds like it was a rewarding experience.

Anita said...

What is it about opening a door and having that gush of wind sending your hair in all directions? Happens to me every Sunday as I walk into the first set of doors at church. I'm sure some science person out there can expain it.
Anyway, my problem is the opposite of yours. Giving speeches or presentations, being the center of attention before more than a few people, is not comfortable, until I really get into it. Meeting new people...usually not a problem. We problably envy each other.
The curler, flat iron, etc. story...easy to visualize...have had similar experiences. LOL
Keep your dream and aspirations going, and try to enjoy the process, too, as I was advised once. Some day, I'll be saying, "Oh, I remember her...she used to have this blog that..." :)

Belle said...

I get incredibly nervous meeting new people, too. I don't mind speaking in front of a group, either, although the build-up to it isn't particularly pleasant! But once I'm talking, I'm fine. Not so when meeting a new person, though. I stay tongue-tied until the second meeting! The author's talk sounds incredibly inspiring - and just reading this post, I can see you standing there, being equally inspiring!

A Wrinkled Timie said...

Congratulations for going! Loved your story about getting ready. You will be published and I hope to be there to get a signed edition!

Sierra Godfrey said...

You've got a terrific drive Jessica and your determination is inspiring!! You'll get there.