I have to be honest with myself and apparently everyone else.
My book signing is coming up on Thursday at the Book Nook in Montague (5:15-6:30). There’s the plug I’m supposed to put in. Now I’m going to get real…
I am scared out of my mind. Seriously anxious. Here are some things that only a few people know about me. When asked about what my books are about, my hands start shaking and I cannot form words. I seriously look dumb. I have NEVER had writers block, but I have a block when people confront me about my books. I stutter, I stammer, I forget the main point of the book, I am vague, my head rushes and I can’t think of what to tell people. I can say the genre. I can say the main character’s names. I simply don’t have the ability to give a general synopsis. I leave shaking my head every time, cursing myself for looking so “dumb.”
Another thing, I always want to cancel events. I don’t cancel them, but I always want to. I can’t cancel them no matter how bad I want to, because my desire to be a writer is deeper than the desire to cancel. That said, I don’t like being a public figure. I don’t mind teaching and discussing other people’s work, I just can’t stand speaking about my own. I sometimes feel like a fraud. Like, “Why would these people want to spend money on something I did?” It’s weird. I also get the typical anxiety stuff, I spend a lot of time worrying about:
-What if nobody shows up, they will never ask me to come back again?
-What if a ton of people show up and I don’t have enough books? They may get upsets for wasting their time coming.
-What if they hate my work?
-What if I suck as a writer and I’m wasting my life trying?
-What if I puke all over the place because I’m so nervous? Worse, what if I faint?
When you put your creative work out there for people to see you feel especially vulnerable. Criticism is acceptable, expected, and necessary, but it’s also hard to hear. On the flip side, sometimes it’s easier to hear than strong support. For example, when I first started writing over a decade ago, my dad smiled at me and patted me on the hand and said, “Cool.” It was like a ‘That’s cute’ type of moment. However, these days my dad looks at me with large eyes and pride and says, “You’re actually doing this. I sincerely believe you are going to make it- you are that good. People love your work. I’m so impressed. Nina, you’re going to make it big. New York big.” Of course, that feels good to hear, but again, it’s terrifying. Self-doubt, ‘What if I don’t make it? I look stupid.’
Then there’s the bite my lips humility. I question why my best written book (A Divided Love) isn’t selling beans and my worse written book (Perfectly Suited) is selling all over the place here and other countries. ‘Perfectly Torn’ is somewhere in the middle. My head goes through a plethora of reasons and then I have to remind myself to stop, take a deep breath, and chill out.
I truly believe every goal we set for ourselves is accomplishable. I live every day reaching for my goals and investing in my passion. But if anyone thinks this stuff is easy, they are dead wrong. I constantly have to remind myself of the things I teach my therapy clients and practice what I preach. When each stressful moment is over, I thank God for the experience and the growth and delight in the fact that I’ve never had to deal with pig blood. Though, through this process, I think I have discovered where Stephen King came up with that idea. I swear, writers like to write- the public stuff, not so much.