by Linda O. Johnston
I was a shy kid.
I stumbled when teachers called on me in classrooms from elementary school through high school, and seldom raised my hand to provide an answer. I could, however, be someone else on stage and so I managed to do okay acting in a play.
When I was about to graduate from high school, one of my English teachers called me into her office and warned me I would never be successful, since I couldn’t talk in class.
Even so, I did okay in undergraduate school. But when I went to law school and had to participate in moot court, I was advised to join Toastmasters.
That worked–or at least well enough so I had no problem passing even my litigation-oriented classes, even though I intended to become a transactional attorney.
And all this time, I had started my writing and kept on going.
Flash forward quite a few years. I eventually started having novels published. I loved it! But I also learned that part of attempting to be successful was that you had to get out there and publicize your books. And so, I started volunteering for panels first, then gave talks on my own. Somehow, I managed to get through them.
And now? Well, now I’m fine getting up in front of a group and talking, particularly about my writing and the genres I write in. Which is fortunate. Last weekend, I attended California Dreamin’, a local romance writers’ conference held every two years. I had already registered and planned to attend.
But then, on Thursday, I received an email. Could I please give a talk on my own on Saturday? A person who’d planned to attend and provide a talk on cozy mysteries and romance novels was unfortunately ill, and they needed me to substitute for her.
Two days to prepare for a one-hour speech. Could I get it prepared? Could I actually present it in front of a group?
Yes! In fact, I’d started doing talks and panels long enough ago now that I just had to do a search on my computer and find notes for a talk I’d given a few years ago that I updated.
I think my talk went over well. I enjoyed giving it, and my audience seemed engaged and asked good, pertinent questions–which I could answer without referring to my notes the way I needed to when I started out.
So am I shy any more? I don’t think so, at least not externally. And I have learned my lesson. If you’re going to be a writer, it definitely helps to deal with any shyness you have and, preferably, get over it.
How shy are you?