I don’t like public appearances because my brain is a giant hot mess. I’m fine around good friends and one-time interactions–my heart goes out to those poor souls who suffer anxiety every time they have to make a purchase and have to deal with the cashier–but if you know who I am and I’ve never met you? No. My brain trips and falls over itself, and I’ll say things that are dreadful. Absolutely dreadful. Things I don’t mean and would never say if my brain wasn’t feeling slightly comfortable and slightly off-balance all at once.
[There was a story here in the rough draft of this post. It proved what an awful horrible terrible person lurks in the back of my head. I deleted it, because as much as we like to pretend otherwise, the Internet isn’t a safe space and your words can and will be used against you, over and over and over again, and God help you if you misspoke.]
I don’t like doing conventions, mainly because the energy it requires can peel my faux-extrovert paint job faster than anything. I’m good on Friday and most of Saturday, but by Sunday I’m hiding in the bathroom and probably crying. But this writing thing has become my job, and like any job there are parts of it that need doing, regardless of whether I want to do them or not. I was chatting with a buddy who summed it up perfectly:
So I have heard, from those whose occupations require it…it’s a weird quirk of the modern age that while in many ways the act of not just writing, but publishing a book can be more cottage-industrial than ever, the author can’t (well, in most cases) just pull a Salinger anymore, pretty much because of the ease by which books are published. You need to be your own noisemaker because no one else will, and how do you stand out from the deluge otherwise?
I’ve done a bunch of comic conventions, which are decent money and you go home with a few good stories, and a bunch of anime conventions, which are great money and you go home with the weirdest stories ever. Writing or SFF conventions specifically to network and promote my work? I’ve never done those, and the idea of selling myself and my product to a new audience terrifies me. (It seems like this would fall into my anxiety skillset of being able to talk to strangers, but it doesn’t–I don’t like selling what I do or who I am. Never have. It’s got nothing to do with the stigma that society has placed on self-promotion; it’s that these topics fall outside of my brain’s natural comfort zone.)
Got to be done. And I’m riding the assumption that I can expand my brain’s comfort zone through positive experiences: if I can survive a couple of these, then I’ll be willing to do more conventions, and so on.
My biggest concern is that experience and familiarity will put me in that place where I feel slightly comfortable and slightly off-balance, and then those absolutely dreadful things will start coming out of my mouth.
I don’t know what to do about this.