Authors, Appearances, Anxiety, and Dropping One’s Pants

I’m annoyed that my voice recognition software recognizes Ludwig Wittgenstein on the first try but doesn’t recognize Miss Marple. Humph. (To be fair, it doesn’t recognize Lord Peter Wimsey, either. But nor does it recognize Luce Irigaray. But it recognizes Jo March. But not Gilbert Blythe. AARGHHH!)

(Incidentally, my favorite VRS kerfuffle recently was when I dictated, “He dropped his pen suddenly and stood with eyes closed, massaging his hand,” and my computer wrote, “He dropped his pants suddenly and stood with eyes closed, massaging his hand.”)

So, I leave for Vail on Wednesday, followed by many cities in a short amount of time, and since I’ve never done a tour before, I’m not sure how much blogging time I’ll have. Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me regularly for the next few weeks. (The tour ends October 15.)

There’s an FAQ about being an introvert and dealing with appearance anxiety that I’ve been wanting to answer for some time. The thing is, I understand the question completely. I’m a tried and true scaredy-cat. But… I don’t think I have anything profound to say. I have adjusted — like crazy — to a new way of living. This time last year I could not have done this conference followed by this tour. I simply couldn’t have done it; I was too overwhelmed and frightened. Now, here I am, I leave in two days, and sure, I’m stressed out (I have a lot of laundry to do and I can’t decide how many pairs of shoes to bring and I can’t decide if one of my orchids needs a south-facing window while I’m gone and I think one of my speeches might be dumb), but I feel okay. I mean, what can I do? I’m prepared; I’ll do my best; it’ll be fine.

I think my answer to the “how does one deal with appearance anxiety” question is this: (1) When appropriate, prepare, prepare, PREPARE. (2) Do things, even though they’re terrifying, and over time, you’ll probably find that they get a lot less terrifying. And in the process, you’ll learn which things you like to do and which things you don’t; you’ll learn how to say, No, I don’t want to do that particular thing; and you’ll decide what kind of author you want to be. You’ll get to know yourself as an author, and even better, you’ll come to trust yourself… and (*cue violin*) you’ll learn that it’s okay to just be yourself. :o) Roll your eyes, but it’s true. And really, truly, it’ll be okay. You can do this.

Here is a wise thing my editor said to me once: “Don’t let fear make your decisions.”

Here is a wise thing a dear friend wrote to me once: “Throw pleasing everyone out the window. Throw pleasing anyone out the window. Just do things for yourself. Just be you. There is no way on earth that just being you is not enough — just being you is galaxies more than enough.”

And here are a few lines I love from the movie Three Kings:

Archie: You’re scared, right?
Conrad: Maybe.
Archie: The way it works is, you do the thing you’re scared shitless of, and you get the courage after you do it, not before you do it.
Conrad: That’s a dumbass way to work. It should be the other way around.
Archie: I know. That’s the way it works.


Be well, everyone. Have a good few weeks — I’ll write when I can. And we’ll see just how adjusted and courageous I’m feeling on Friday at noon, when I’m about to give a keynote speech ^_^. Wish me luck!