Of all the things that cause a writer's heart to thump a little harder in a 'help me!' kind of way, being recognised is certainly one of them. Maybe we dream of being in the New York Times top 100, but that's an arms' length kind of recognition - the true test comes when you're actually facing your readers in person or online, chatting about writing or signing your books. That's when you have to emerge from the safety of your shell and actually interact with the people you're writing for.
For most of us, when you first begin writing, it's your own local community that picks up the scent first.
The first time I was introduced as a 'local celebrity' I had to grin foolishly later through many teasing greetings of : 'Oh, look - it's Miss Local Celebrity!' when I met friends and neighbours. This was sometimes yelled across crowded restaurants or from the other side of the street, causing strangers to turn around and stare.
Maybe they were hoping to see a Beyonce or LaCruz but no, it was just a matronly type in paint stained jeans and a faintly distracted expression. Me. Sometimes they looked puzzled, some would actually ask who I was and what I did.....oh, blush!
Of course, there's a point where you've got to get over yourself and learn to accept the 'local celebrity status' as a compliment. It's one of the hardest lessons I've learned, being naturally shy and all. I find it hard to talk about my writing - although I'll yammer on all day about writing in general. Teaching creative writing classes was such fun because it let me talk for a couple of hours several times a week to people who were as interested in writing as I am.
But talking about my writing on a personal level, well, I still find that hard. I think one watershed for recovery from the terminally tongue-tied state that put me in was when the local ladies book club decided to read my second novel, Winters & Somers, as their book-of-the-month. Lord, I was so flattered by that - it was perhaps the first time I felt I was really taken seriously as a writer, by myself as well as people whose educated opinions I respected. And I managed to chat away about the book and answer questions without becoming a shrinking violet - good practice for book signings!
The rural area I live in is noted for its excellent artists and craftspeople, many of whom I admire for their work. It came as something of a shock to realise, once my first novel (Judgement By Fire, from Red Rose Press, available in print on Amazon!) was published, that my friends and neighbours locally were really supportive of what I was doing, and as proud of the 'local writer' as they were of the many artists here. It was a real boost to my self confidence, especially as the encouragement (along with the teasing) grew as my later novels were published. And bought locally, too.
So this weekend I donated four of my novels to a local fundraising auction. And when the auctioneer started: "We are proud to have so many creative people in this area, and in particular, for the past two years, a writer...." I blushed just a little.
But I was proud and grateful for the compliment.
Glenys O'Connell is currently working on a romantic suspense series about a counselor who attracts more than her share of nutzoids, and a book on creative writing coming in September. Her work has been published by The Wild Rose Press and Red Rose Press (what is this with roses?) She also writes non-fiction, with her latest book, PTSD: The Essential Guide, also due out in September. If you still want more, you can find her at her web site: Romance Can Be murder, www.glenysoconnell.com; on Twitter at http://twitter.com/GlenysOConnell; Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glenys.oconnell. She also hangs around other blogs while trying to escape the voices in her head.