My entire childhood, I walked back and forth to school looking down at my feet. Seriously. I don’t think I looked up once from the first day of kindergarten to Grade 8 graduation.
The fact is, I’ve been shy my entire life. So shy that, apparently, I’d rather risk a collision with tree or parked car than talk with people.
My view walking to school as a child (if you pretend the shoes are black patent leather).
A few years ago, when I impulsively chopped off my long hair in a pixie cut, the worst part of the whole debacle was that people COULD SEE ME.
I never knew how much I used my hair to hide behind until it was GONE. When I was a kid, there was a “Beautiful Chrissy” doll. A button in her back let you wind her hair up short; when you were tired of that, you could just pull it back long by pushing another button.
I had no such buttons. My short hair left me feeling exposed for months after that ill-fated visit to the salon.
The curse of shyness means that I am also terrible with names—and worse with faces.
I blame this squarely on the fact that, when I am introduced to someone, my paralyzing fear of trying to think of something intelligent to say leaves me unable to pay attention to the important details that would come in handy later, like faces and names.
Even if I do recognize you and say hello first, we come to my even greater public humiliation fear: you won’t remember me!
And I’ll look like some kind of weird stalker who just walked up to you on the street and started babbling like an idiot.
On the off chance that I know you and you know me, I’ll probably avoid eye contact anyway.
Because I consider making small talk one of Dante’s Seven Rings of Hell. (It’s Ring One. Right before the one in which you must deal with telemarketers.)
I am an intelligent person. I earned a bachelor’s degree. I’m a writer by trade.
And yet, on the right day, my mind will go completely blank in a social situation, just to screw with me.
I think many authors share this same leaky boat.
The thing about us is that we are FAR more comfortable holed away writing a book (or reading a good one) because of the curse of shyness.
We already suffer the whole self-esteem thing (no one can be harsher on our books than we are).
Compounding that is the inescapable fact that we must interact with readers and promote our books. And, we have to suck up our pride and BEG the ones who’ve enjoyed the book to PRETTY PLEASE leave a review.
Being an author is a freaking BARGAIN WITH THE DEVIL!
In fact, about once a month, I talk myself out of deleting my Facebook author account, personal account and Twitter account (which has about 18k followers right now, which only took FOREVER to accumulate), because that would take all the pressure off.
But then I’d be writing my novels just for me, because no one would ever hear about them. And I wouldn’t get to squeal a little bit when I see a lovely review of one of them.
A few of my reasons for living.
So, I’m going try to put myself out there.
I’m not going to lie—it may involve drinking more alcohol. Possibly Chocolate Raspberry Truffle martinis.
I guess I’ll just have to make my peace with that.