I promised my friend, the blogger Kitt O’Malley, that I’d write about a publishing talk I attended. Kitt, as you bravely navigate the BlogHer#16 conference today, this one’s for you!
I was fired up for the talk until my anxiety reared its hideous, soul-sucking head on the morning of the special event.
I thought about bailing…
My name is Anxiety and I love to freak you out!
The talk was only a ten minute drive from my house. I made sure to bring my Rescue Remedy Plus lozenges which help alleviate my anxiety in a subtle way. They’re much healthier than benzodiazepines, they are sugar-free and non-addictive. The lozenges aren’t cheap ($8 for 10) but they are worth every penny and I love the taste.
I figured I could maintain a low profile at the event and my social anxiety could take a back seat. I’d soon learn I was wrong about that assumption.
Although I have a book deal with Post Hill Press and I know some basic publishing tenets, I was curious to find out if I’d learn something new.
I was anxious from the moment I showed up; even so, it felt good to sit in a room with other writers. I was proud of myself for getting out in the world again.
I learned a few new facts and concepts that I found fascinating, such as the importance of gearing up for public speaking at book signing events. The presenter explained to us how much public speaking can make a significant difference in an author’s career.
I know how vital it is to have dynamic public speaking skills at book signings because of my husband Craig. He has given over 50 talks about his book Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West (University of Oklahoma Press).
Craig loves giving these talks, he’s a gifted speaker, he created an engaging PowerPoint presentation, and get this: he’s unafraid of audience members who like to argue with him about his book’s premise – even the obnoxious ones! The icing on the cake is that he has sold a lot of books at his talks.
These days I feel faint at the thought of getting up in front of a crowd, but since my book isn’t out until fall 2017, I’m shoving my fears aside for now.
The talk was scheduled to last an hour, but (unsurprisingly) it went overtime. I wanted to bail after sixty minutes because I was growing more anxious, so I missed the Q&A. In the past I would’ve stuck it out and suffered; this time I gave myself permission to leave because when it comes to my anxiety and public gatherings, I’ve decided to take baby steps .
On my way out the door, two encounters challenged me within five minutes – one bad and one good.
The Adorable Collie
As I rushed out the library entrance, I saw a gorgeous collie sitting ten feet away. The dog’s leash was tied to a post. I had to stop and gaze at the magnificent, mellow creature – this dog reminded me of my Scotch collie Lucy. I stayed for a few minutes and grew more and more livid that this collie’s DUMB owner left this beautiful dog by itself.
I was particularly sensitive because a month ago a dog was stolen in a nearby park with the owner only a few yards away from him! I still see flyers about his disappearance everywhere.
Anyone could have stolen this collie. I wanted to speak with the owner in a non-hostile way, explaining how this dog could be stolen in 10 seconds, or at least leave a note for the owner, but I’m ashamed to tell you I wanted to get going. I still regret leaving the collie without attaching a note to its fancy leash.
Meeting a Nice Writer with Bipolar
As I admired the lonesome collie, a man walked by us who I recognized from the seminar. He stopped and began chatting with me.
This is where my social anxiety kicked in big-time. As you know, I was anxious from the get-go, I was upset about the collie’s situation, and I wanted to be invisible.
I told him that I needed to jet back home and he acknowledged that politely. Then, in typical Dyane fashion, I blurted that I was aghast that someone would leave the collie there. He agreed. I began walking to my car and he joined me. I was comfortable with our brief “hi, bye” sort of talk.
As we crossed the parking lot, the writer asked me about my writing. All the while I wanted to get the hell out of there. I babbled my book’s premise (“Uh, it’s a memoir about one of the least-known forms of bipolar, postpartum bipolar…”) and he said he had bipolar as well. Well, that wasn’t something I heard every day in the library parking lot!
He’s working on a book about bipolar that sounds inspiring, so I gave him my hideous business card (I’ll include a photo of it in an upcoming post) and we’re going to keep in touch.
My friends, I felt SO dumb and anxious after this harmless interaction! I think that if I met that writer under different circumstances (i.e. when I wasn’t hopped up from being in an overcrowded room of writers, and when I wasn’t upset about an abandoned collie) my anxiety would’ve been lower.
Lose It! Update
My friend Bradley, author of the excellent blog Insights of A Bipolar Bear, is my Lose It! buddy. We encourage one other through the Lose It! website. Pairing up with him has helped me immensely, both in attaining my weight loss goal and with maintenance.
If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section, or you can sign up for free at www.loseit.com and search for the “Wondrous Writers” group. We’d love to have more of you join us.
Next week I’ll be writing from the spectacularly beautiful Alpine Valley. Hopefully I won’t have any close encounters with bears like I’ve had in the past.
There’s nothing like looking in the eyes of a young bear to make one’s anxiety skyrocket!
I prefer to lock big brown eyes with Lucy…
take care & lots of love,
Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.