The RT Convention was held this past weekend. It is a jam-packed weekend of authors mingling with readers, holding talks, and throwing parties. I didn’t attend and I have to admit that a part of me wishes I had gone, but a bigger part of me is thrilled I didn’t. It isn’t that I don’t love talking to readers because I do. It isn’t the travel because I love to travel. It isn’t even talking about my books because I love to talk about my books and writing. It’s all about the crowd. I am not comfortable in crowds. Never have been. I see pictures of rock concerts and I nearly get hives. For all my political leanings, you will never find me at a protest because I can’t stand in a throng. The pictures friends posted about RT had me gasping and gritting my teeth. It’s funny because I have no problem standing on a stage or in front of a room and speaking (well, a few nerves, but public speaking is NOT my number one fear. It doesn’t even make the top one hundred–I can’t testify that I actually have one hundred fears. Hyperbole is one of my favorite tools.), but put me in a position where I’m hemmed in by people and I become very uncomfortable. That’s the main reason why I don’t dream of traveling to place like Singapore. It’s a good thing I live in the West (although you will hear me complain about Albuquerque’s isolation–you can’t win with me).
Sometimes you have to participate in events that make you uncomfortable, and I have been to RT in the past and I’m considering going next year. So how do I get through those situations? Well, I have a theater background and I put on a mask. Not literally. I plaster a smile on my face, pretend I’m the person who loves to be out there and act. Acting doesn’t mean that I’m not sincerely thrilled with meeting people; it’s simply my coping mechanism.
More and more writing/being an author requires you to put yourself out there–in person and on-line. I don’t mind the on-line. I never post anything I wouldn’t tell or share with you to your face (thus the reason I keep my politics off my professional pages). Authors are required to do a lot of their own promotion until you’re big enough that your name alone generates buzz. So I overcome my fear and do it.
I’ve met authors who don’t like technology. Fine. But suck it up and learn it because you need to use it (unless you already have that big name that generates its own buzz). I’ve met authors who are socially awkward; that’s something else that can be learned. I’ve met authors who were required to change genres; do it. Authors have to make major career decisions for themselves and be in charge of hiring and firing agents, or deciding not to take a contract, or deciding to take a contract. None of those are pleasant tasks. Yes, even when you think something is a positive step, your decision comes with new anxieties or fears or responsibilities.
Bottom line: writing is a job and sometimes requires uncomfortable actions. Yes, it’s creative, but it is a job and no job is wonderful 100% of the time. Unless you’re doing it as a hobby. In that case, ignore what I’ve said and just enjoy.
And if you ever meet me at a conference, please be assured that I am happy to meet you, and if you corner me somewhere semi-private, you’ll find I’m really not distant and I love to talk and share ideas and stories.
Books I’m reading now:
Boy with this almost daily blogging I’m not making the reading progress I usually do. so I’m still on Storm of Swords by George RR Martin.