So the other day, while at a welcome-home get-together for a friend and her partner who have been wandering the world (you can follow their adventures here), I was wading deep in the muck of my discomfort. I gulped wine hoping it would work its soothing magic and loosen my mental and verbal constipation so I could converse beyond monosyllabic grunts.
A slight drizzle started to fall, and I sought shelter beneath a tent along with a dozen other people. I knew most of them to some extent; they were former colleagues at the university where I had worked. But there were several I didn't know. Suddenly, someone (I don’t even remember who) brought up the fact that I’m writing these days. You know how this goes. People, usually those who have no idea what it’s really like to be a writer, look at you differently and possibly act impressed. “Oh that’s so cool… I’ve always wanted to be a writer…. What’s that like?” And my favorite, “What have you written?”
No really, I wanted to reiterate, that’s the God’s honest truth.
I told them I contribute to a couple of sites and write a couple of blogs, publish here and there and hope to eventually work on a bigger project. I hoped my vague answer would soothe their curiosity and we could move the spotlight on to someone else, like the woman standing beside me in whose honor this party was being held.
Someone whipped out their smart phone and asked for my blog address. Oh my gosh, I felt a coronary malfunction coming on. But they all stared at me expectantly. I muttered the address and the person holding their phone pulled up my blog. I briefly wondered how far I could punt the little gadget. These people are college professors, for heaven’s sake. I felt the bile rise. Then, the most horrid thing of all happened: the phone owner started to read an entry aloud.
This must be stopped. “No, no, don’t read it aloud here,” I pleaded, and fortunately they had mercy on me and quit.
What? Why did they stop so readily? Did they realize how awful it was? Did it sound really stupid?
Apparently I can’t be appeased.
But as I stood there, praying to God and any divinity persona that gave a crap, that the weather would ease up and release me, I started thinking about how I really need to be more assertive and confident, how I should be able to talk about my work, and that this was really an opportunity to expand my audience, perhaps find new readers.
The librarian at the university looked at me and asked, “Julie, would you like to give a talk and maybe do some readings for our Friends of the Library event sometime?” I wanted to throw up again. Good heavens, that’s for real writers, not someone like me.
“Sure,” I said hoping my words didn't sound like the dry grit they felt like in my mouth. “I’d be honored.”
I really must do something about that blurting, freak personality inside me.
So how do you handle the on-the-spot conversation about your book or your unfinished manuscript? Do you look forward to opportunities to talk about your writing, or like me, do you grab for the wine and hope no one notices the slurring?