Wednesday, February 4, 2015

IWSG February - Wayyy Out Of My Comfort Zone

This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post for February.


Alex's awesome co-hosts this month are:
Please stop by their blogs and say thank you.


With the exception of publishing my debut, this may be the most insecure I've ever been.



Writespace, a writing organization in Houston, asked me if I'd do a reading from my novel for their Valentine's day event. I said yes. Now I'm wishing I'd said no.

Well, not really. I know I need to do things like this, and I'm thrilled they asked me. But--after the critique session (that I requested), during which I discovered being able to write a novel does not mean one can necessarily do a professional (theatrical) reading from one--my anxiety went straight from orange to red.

I'm being a grown up and giving my big-girl panties a firm tug. I have plans to practice my reading. I also have my paperbacks, table displays, business cards, and promotional bookmarks ready to go. The swag pens I ordered should be here by end of business today, and I found some neat table decorations. Heck, I even have the Paypal Here swipe thingy for my phone.

What I lack is the confidence (and, possibly, the talent) to do this.

I may feel differently once it's over, but... My advice? Unless you're a former theater student, think twice before you choose a reading for your first public appearance as an author.
In other news...
I've been a lousy blogger and an even lousier visitor lately. That's because I'm busy drafting my next book--a companion novel to my debut that I plan to release this spring. 

Book 2 contains spoilers, so if you want to read Come Back, now's the time. :)


Kindle  /  Nook


IWSG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's a monthly bloghop that offers a safe haven for writers to express their feelings and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. It's also a venue for offering support, both in the form of comments and positive posts. Writers of all kinds are welcome. 

We 'meet' the first Wednesday of every month. If you're interested in learning more, click on the link above. And don't be intimidated by the size of the group. We're not expected to visit everyone on the list

54 comments:

  1. What a great opportunity to talk about your book! I think you'll find that you enjoy sharing your work once you get started reading, but practicing the reading in front of friends should be really helpful.
    I've found I have to skip the blog a month here and there too in order to get anything done so don't feel bad about taking a breather from blogging! It makes me treasure the posts you do have all the more. :)

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    1. I'm trying to keep in mind that the audience wasn't at the critique session. If I can read slowly and clearly enough, and do it with some feeling, they'll probably enjoy it. Thanks, Kirsten.

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  2. Funny you mention theater students. Before I was a theater student myself, I was a lousy public speaker! However, I never spoke of anything I was truly passionate about. I think you'll find that once you're sharing your love, it will go much easier than you think.

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  3. Melissa,

    I saw where you had posted this concern on FB and know the feeling. I did a reading of my work at the conference and let me tell you, martinis help.

    Luckily, I have a background in theater, but that's different. In theater, I'm someone else...a different character...and those aren't my words, they're not my work.

    So, that's how I approached my reading. I went into character. I was the protagonist in the story. Of course, I had to overcome the fact that these were my words I was reading, but once I did that, it flowed.

    My advice? Practice, like you're doing, but to overcome the fear...Melissa...this is what you have to do. Just fake it. You have to act like this is the BEST thing that's ever been written. Believe it! Go in with a confidence that is unshakeable.

    And martinis.

    "I'd love a martini, but two at the most, three I'm under the table, four, I'm under the host." ~ Dorothy Parker

    Oh, and if you want to read my "latest" (no obligation--it's a short for competition), here's the link:

    Passing the (Olympic) Torch

    Good luck on your reading. I think you'll JAM!

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    1. LOL There will be wine there. I may have to have a glass. Better yet, maybe I can kidnap a theater student and let them do the reading. :P

      My problem is that I'm about as far from theatrical as a person can get. I'm quiet and serious, and when I'm nervous, I only get more quiet and more serious. It's not a lack of confidence in the story, it's a lack of animation in myself.

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    2. Yes, I am a little bit of an extrovert. ;)

      Two glasses of wine. Fortified. :D

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  4. You're being way too hard on yourself! The audience is excited to meet you and they WANT to hear about your book. They'll relate to you even more if you'll just be yourself. :)

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  5. I am a former drama student, thankfully, but I totally get it! One trick I find works is reading as if you were reading a picture book to children. You really have to vary your vocal tone and highlight the important parts of each sentence with your emphasis. If you go through the excerpt in advance and make notes (yes, actual notes) on the page--cues etc--you'll find you're much more confident with your reading. I'm wishing you the best! I know you'll do awesome.

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    1. Thanks, Crystal. That's good advice. I will probably remove some of the action beats and act them out instead.

      Oy. This is all so new to me... >.<

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  6. Think of it this way: the hardest part is writing the book and finishing it. Most people you talk to, they all have or had at some point ideas for a book but they never finished it. So you've done the hardest, now go, be confident and tell them how you accomplished this. It'll be a piece of cake compared to what you've done already. :-)

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  7. I can totally relate to your anxiety but I know you will be a smashing success. Can't wait to hear about the event once you have gone and knocked their socks off. :)

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    1. I'm sure I'll feel better afterwards (at leas, I hope!). I keep telling myself this anyway. :P Thanks, Julie.

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  8. Good luck with the reading. Speaking in public totally terrifies me! Take a deep breath. You can do it.

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    1. It terrifies me, too. Social stuff does NOT come easily for me. It is all very learned. >.<

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  9. You'll do great! :D

    Are you going to be sitting or standing during the reading? It might help if you're standing, that way you can slowly pace to release nervous energy. Then again, you might wind up like me, glued to one spot. :)

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    1. I'll be standing at a podium without a mic. (Thank goodness the room is small!) I won't be able to pace or I'll lose my place. The excerpt is too long to memorize. Even if it was shorter, I wouldn't trust myself to remember it with my adrenalin through the roof.

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  10. I think you'll do great too. You've done the first read and already! Now you can perfect it.

    Yipes, I read above it's a long excerpt. That would have me quaking my my boots.

    Do tell us how it went afterwards though. And know we are all there will you!

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  11. Practice. A lot. Practice in front of friends and family. Even the mirror. It will boost your confidence!

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    1. Thanks, Alex. That's what I've been told.

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  12. Public speaking is scary. Maybe practice in front of a group of friends. In front of the mirror. At the dinner table when your family is captive? Everyone I know who's done it say they don't know what they were so worried about. I'm sure it takes practice and you'll do fine.

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    1. I've heard that, too, that people do better than they thought they would at these things. That's what I'm counting on.

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  13. Whne I used to do book signings I would cringe when I walked into the store and saw dozens of chairs set up. I like to mingle through the store when no one is at the signing table and strike up conversations with people. But reading to a group of people, no way.

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    1. Funny. The mingling and talking with people freaks me out, too. You have that on me, at least. ;)

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  14. The idea of reading my work aloud terrifies me, but it's bound to happen at some point! Best of luck! :)

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  15. Congrats on getting a reading - I'm sure you'll do great! And yay for progress on your new book! :)

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    1. Thanks, Lexa. I'm trying to stay positive. :)

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  16. This is the kind of limelight that totally unnerves me so I really hear you. But you've already made big steps getting your book published, and now another one is on the way. Soon you'll be a veteran. Thanks for the encouragement at my blog today.

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    1. You bet, Sharon! I love to visit the IWSG newbies! :D

      The 'limelight' part of being an author scares me so much, but it's part of it. I just have to suck it up. Maybe it'll be better than I think.

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  17. I'm shy, so it took me some time to get over this fear. I practiced every chance I got. My library has an open mic on 2nd Sundays, so I'd go and practice. I read to my cats now before an event. If I'm not animated enough, they go to sleep. To keep them awake, I have to be better than 'monotone.' Then at the event, I read to a friend in the audience, or, I can't see with my glasses off but can read, so I take them off.

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    1. I'm past 'monotone,' just not to the level of 'theatrical.'
      I'll practice reading to my dog. ;)

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  18. That's an awesome opportunity! I hate hate hate public speaking, but it always seems to be easier when it's about my own writing. Like, I've done better at poetry readings than doing a speech in a college class. Maybe it's better to have an emotional connection to the work. Good luck!

    February IWSG Co-host

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  19. Be sure to think positive! I think you'll do great.

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  20. Ooh, good luck! Or "break a leg", whichever is more appropriate. ^_^ Definitely practice your reading, in front of people if you can - maybe find a few friends who are willing to be your practice audience. But this sounds like such a great opportunity, hope it all goes well.

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    1. Maybe it should be, "Lose your voice!" LOL

      That's what I keep telling myself--that this is a great opportunity. I need to suck it up and not pass it up.

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  21. Stop downgrading yourself, Melissa! Of course you have the talent to read your own book, written by you, to others. You don't need to be an Oscar worthy actress. You don't even need to act at all. It's your wonderful story that you toiled over for years. Go out there and do it. You'll be fabulous.

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  22. Good idea to practice reading. I know I'd be scared. Good luck Melissa.

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  23. You are preparing yourself, so I bet you will do great! Best of luck.

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  24. I did a reading before. I wasn't going to practice but thank God I did! I stumbled over my words and I was just horrible. Practicing helped me to see that I wasn't a theatrical person, so I didn't focus on that. I focused on reading clearly and making sure the meaning of phrases and dialogue were clear through intonations (but not in a super dramatic way). And it was a success! So don't worry about being theatrical. Just connect with the words and the audience will get it. Good luck!

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  25. Practice all you can. Relax. Have fun!

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  26. You can do it, Melissa, I know you can!! Just ask Julie - she felt the same way and yet she did great. I DID write a post about this a while back...http://lizblocker.blogspot.com/2014/06/insecure-writers-dont-be-afraid-of.html. I hope it helps!!!

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  27. As soon as you get there, tell everyone that you're so nervous you may pass out while reading. Tell them not to panic, just wake you up. That will lighten the mood and lower the expectations. And people are kind, when they know you're out of your element they are understanding.
    PS I want a pen.One day, I'm going to come to Texas, so save me one.

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  28. This is a good thing, Melissa. You'll be great. And it sounds like you've prepared everything! Good luck!!

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  29. Not sure how I missed your IWSG post this month. My advice is to just keep practicing reading the excerpt until you start getting bored. You'll find your anxiety levels drop quite a bit once that happens.

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  30. Not to worry. I'm sure your pride in your achievement, as well as all the passion you put into writing the book, will come through in your voice leaving your audience mesmerized. How did it go?

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  31. Not to worry. I'm sure your pride in your achievement, as well as all the passion you put into writing the book, will come through in your voice leaving your audience mesmerized. How did it go?

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