So I got my January royalty cheque and I was feeling pretty flush and fancy, the way ya do when you never have any money and suddenly you have enough bonus money to do something fancy. Something really fancy. So I put my best dress on, and decided to take my current squeeze (hello squeeze) out for a fancypants dinner. And boy were those dinner’s pants fancy. The thing is, at fancypants restaurants, the waiters ask you all the polite things they are supposed to, so the opening chitchat went a little like this:
Waiter: And are you celebrating anything in particular tonight?
Me: [Looks awkward]
Squeeze: Yes… [looks at me as though I am going to speak, looks back at the waiter]
Waiter: What is it?
Me: [Awkward silence, extremely non-debonair blotchy blushing] It’s a secret.
Not my finest/most seductive hour. Why, I hear you all cry, did I not jump forth from my seat and declare to the whole restaurant that I, Lavinia Jane Collins, am a fabulous author of many marvellous fantasy/historical romance tales? Why did I not cry forth, ‘my paperback is out, good sir, and many of the good folks of the internet have approved my books!’?
Why why why. I asked myself why. My date asked me why. Well of course I know why. One element, of course, is my enduring small-town-religious-upbringing shame at having written what my mother creatively described as a “bonkbuster”, but I’m not that shy about that sort of thing. After all, I wrote the mucky book in the first place! Part of it, also, is growing up in an environment where I was constantly told not to “boast”. It’s unladylike to blow your own trumpet. Of course, in the wise words of Edmund Blackadder, I could at least have told the waiter that I had a trumpet, but I didn’t want to.
And this is why. Somehow, it all feels too personal. I know I’m always here on the net, spilling my heart and soul via the blog, and tweeting away, but the internet is ever the safe space of the introvert. We can socialise when we want to, how we want to. We can control how much we interact, and what we keep private. We don’t have to deal with big groups, or embarrassing outpourings of attention. We can interact with people (which we love to do) but while also being on our own, having time to think, having time to reflect. Now, I don’t know this, but I imagine that many writers are introverts at heart, or at least people who like the time to reflect, to think about what they say. I, myself, too (and I’m sure others feel the same) feel that I have given a lot of myself away in writing those books, laid a lot bare (no pun intended). I don’t feel confident enough to draw the attention of anyone who is actually in the room with me to the book.
And I think that’s the crux of it. For those of us who do feel shy about sharing, who don’t feel daring enough to be proud and tell people in the street they are a writer, or an author. And I kind of want people to know. I kind of want to be fussed, but that part of me is too inhibited, not ready yet. I hope that one day, I will be.
Please share in the comments, shy and bold alike, your experiences of being an author in public!