Well. Here we are. It’s Monday. I write the Monday posts. Except that this Monday is MY Monday—the last day before my novel, The Black Hour, is published and the Monday of Lori Week at the Deb Ball.
I think most writers are a little on the introverted side, so you’ll probably understand if I say that the phrase “Lori Week” gives me the jeebies. A while back, one of the other Debs (Heather, I think) said that throwing a launch for yourself was a bit like putting on your wedding. A regular three-ring circus fully contained by a three-ring binder.
The problem with that analogy is that, when I got married, I actually chickened out of doing the whole down-the-aisle/everyone-you-know-staring thing. My now-husband and I agreed: we didn’t want to be the center of attention like that. Instead, we eloped to New York with a small group of friends and relatives along. Of course, we eloped to the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day, so four TV station crews showed up, too.
I never saw any footage, though, so that’s cool.
My husband is still shy but I’ve actually become a lot more accustomed to attention, mostly because writing requires it. Well, not the writing portion of writing, but the other half—the sharing.
Because as introverted as we might be, we want someone to read our work, don’t we? All right, Salinger, not you. We get it.
I still remember vividly how sick to my stomach I was as I took the Blue Line El to my first-ever reading. I was in the first semester of my MFA program in creative writing at Roosevelt University. I had given up a lot to be in school and to be free of the terrible job I’d had for five years, during which I wrote not one single word for myself. But as the train neared my stop, I wasn’t sure if I could stand up in front of other people and read aloud what I’d written.
Then my mind cleared and I realized, really realized the opportunity I had. Sharing what I’d written with other people wasn’t about public speaking. It was about living the life I’d always imagined for myself. I was getting what I had always wanted.
Remember what happened to the woman who suddenly found out that she got everything that she ever wanted?
If you believe Roald Dahl, she lives happily ever after. We’ll see.
But in that moment, realizing that I was succeeding at what I’d set out to do helped calm me down enough to read a story to a group of my grad school peers. And then I kept doing it, every chance I got. The strategy I adopted (and apparently maybe suggested it to other people) is one of saying yes. Say yes, even when sometimes you really don’t think you can do the thing being asked of you. You’ll figure it out later. Go ahead and say yes, even when it scares you. Especially when it scares you.
People who write aren’t always best suited to the other things publishing requires, but I’ll admit: Being one day away from having my book on the shelf of someone’s library, of someone’s bookstore, in someone’s house—that’s an amazing feeling. Thank you for being with me this Monday and all the Mondays in my Deb year.