“I write journals and would recommend journal writing to anyone who wishes to pursue a writing career. You learn a lot. You also remember a lot… and memory is important.” -Judy Collins
On the first weekend of the New Year, I braved the bitter cold and headed out to a local writer’s workshop. The theme – perfect for starting the year – was “Writing Goals and Skills,” led by the president of the Detroit Working Writers.
I purposely left my laptop at home, for a multitude of reasons. First, there was the practicality of lugging it in the cold. As uncoordinated as I can be, I envisioned slipping and falling in the icy parking lot, struggling to save my device as opposed to struggling to save myself.
Author anxiety and public events. The struggle is real. Whether you have a book signing, a speech or other public venue scheduled on your calendar, have a laugh and do as I say, not as I do did.
Over the years, I have planned some successful soirees – our daughter’s backyard wedding; baby and bridal showers, holiday brunches and so forth. My expertise is not so much in the planning, as I’m happy to be the behind-the-scenes supporting cast. No one complains about issues at when you are serving them wine and chocolate cake.
But there I times that I have to strike out on my own, which can produce author anxiety. Especially as a midlife writer attending my first book signing.
Though I didn’t plan the main event I will be attending, I certainly had to plan for my own little part of this big day.
Am I anxious? You betcha! It is like the first day of school – excited to see everyone, nervous I will be making a faux paus or two.
The Girl Scout in me is doing my best to “Be Prepared.” The MilSpouse in me knows I can pretty much roll through anything.
So as I scrutinized myself in the mirror this morning, looking for blemishes and stray hairs, a few practical event-planning ideas popped into my brain. Though my dad used to mention I might be “a hard-head,” I prefer to think of myself more as a “hands-on learner.” Trust me when I say I have a Masters in How to Embarrass Myself and a Doctorate from the School of Hard Knocks.
Allow me to share what I have learned in life, should you need to represent yourself at a public event:
Facial waxing: Don’t do this the day of your event. A red, swollen lip will just bring attention to the fact you have waxed your meno-stache. Some beauty secrets needn’t be shared. Plus it affects your speech. Trust me, you will thank me for this.
New make-up: The day of your event is not the time to experiment with the latest make-up trends. One time, I thought adding a bit of blue eye shadow to my lower lid would make my eyes pop and look fab with my dress. Sadly, I looked like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. Also, if you have never used eyeliner, THIS IS NOT THE DAY to try it. Heed my advice and eliminate stabbing yourself in the eyeball, making tears of colors streak down your face while sporting the Elvira look.
Workout routine: The day before your event is not the time to go the extra mile – literally or figuratively. I may have tried to do a plank one time, which may have pulled a muscle that I didn’t know existed, which may have prevented me from breathing properly when trying to talk in front of a small crowd. Maybe.
Fine dining: Stick to a what you know works well with your body. A new food may result in hives or digestive issues. And think about your favorite foods, like that yummy garlic dip with fresh-baked pita bread. Um, experience has taught me that the aroma of garlic seeps from every pore of one’s body. Though I’ve been told garlic is good for keeping colds and flu at bay, it is also good for keeping people at bay.
Clothing: Try on your outfit ahead of time, using a 360-mirror. And don’t decide to change your turtle neck after you have curled and shellacked your hair in place.
New shoes: Of course you need new shoes! Duh!!! That being said, test them first. Limping and wincing doesn’t make you look like a heroine, however, it may get you some sympathy sales.
Lugging gear: A few summers ago, I almost bought a collapsible shopping cart for going to our local farmers’ market. But since that would have given off an “old lady vibe,” I concluded that struggling with heavy plastic grocery bags that cut off the circulation in my hands would be the better option. I’m fairly certain that blue-tinged fingers without any sensation won’t allow me to sign any books, so I now use a carry-on bag with wheels to lug my gear.
Beauty sleep: “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. You need to be rested for your writers’ debut.” These are wonderful and wise words from my dear husband. After thirty-plus years, he knows the deal. That even if I look like I am asleep, my brain doesn’t disengage. “Do I have enough books to sell?” or worse, “Will I sell anything?” Or, “What if I trip in front of everyone?” Or, “What if I get a zit?”
Which leads me to my final bit of advice:
Breathe. Hah! How can I do that when I’m caught up in my brain’s “worst case scenario” escapades? When my frontal cortex goes into all out panic, I tend to forget to breathe. So, I will mentally note to make use of my lungs. And as a precaution, I will toss some relaxation-inducing essential oils into my carry-on bag. Who cares if it is a placebo effect? Whatever works, until I can get home and toast the day with a glass of wine. And some chocolate.
If you have any tips to share, please do so in the comment section! Also, if you think my experiences will help someone plan for an event, feel free to share using one of the social media icons on this page.
Not able to attend the book signing? Here’s a link to Feisty after 45.