Monday, August 29, 2011

Glenys O'Connell says: It's scary being a writer!




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.


10 comments:

Jerri Hines/Carrie James-Haynes said...

It's awesome to have such support from your community. That's great. Keep up the good work!

J L said...

My first "local celeb" moment came when I talked to my Mom's book club. It's a group of ladies in my hometown, sort of like "And Ladies of the Club" (the book that came out in the 90s). I was so nervous, but the more I talked, the easier it got.

When I got done, several ladies (parents of many of my friends) came up and said, "We always knew you'd be the writer in the family!"

Boy, did that surprise me -- I was always a writer, but I never knew I'd be published!

It was a fun day and I still cherish that memory, more so now that Mom and so many of those ladies have passed on.

Thanks for writing this and prodding my memory!

Brenda Whiteside said...

I think deep down, no matter how shy, all writers love some amount of recognition. We might start out writing for ourselves, but what a thrill to have someone get some entertainment out of reading what so entertains us while we write. You're lucky to have such good local support. JL, too.

Barbara Edwards said...

What a laugh. I'd love to be a local celebrity. Right now I get a lot of hey, there's my son's Mom.
Barbara

Jannine Gallant said...

Hmmmm, I haven't been getting the royal treatment locally. Maybe a tiara...

Seriously, though, I did a book signing in my old hometown, and the librarian made me give a presentation. I shook the whole time.

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

Glenys you are so right about it being scary to be a writer and facing our readers. I always think I'll disappoint them because I'm on the chubby side. I mean...aren't romance authors supposed to be tall, slender, and very, very rich? (REALLY?)

Alison H. said...

Hi, Glenys. The first time I spoke to a group about my book my sister and cousin were in the audience, and I think that made it a bit easier. However, last week I went to a book signing at our local B & N by two NYT Bestselling romance authors, and even they got a bit flummoxed by some of the audience questions. If you're shy by nature, I'm not sure it ever gets easier.

Vonnie Davis said...

I think the majority of writers are somewhat shy. That's why we are happiest inside our heads, talking and experienceing adventures with our characters. Lovely post--one I think we can all releate to. Thanks for sharing.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Glenys,
Lovely to learn more about you, more importantly it is great that you receive such wonderful local support and recognition. I am afraid I live in a large city, and that sort of support is hard to come by - the little fish in a big pond syndrome.

Regards

Margaret

glenys said...

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment - it's amazing what a boost a little recognition from out neighbours, however tongue in cheek, can mean :-)

Margaret - I lived in an urban area and created a 'support group' by teaching creative writing and other subjects at adult evening classes, and literacy groups. They loved the idea that I was a 'real writer' and told their friends....

Alison & Jannine - my first time speaking was to 60 10 year old boys at a library workshop on children's writing. I still tremble at the mention....

Andrea - I'm a little, let's say statuesque, too :-) But you know, I think some people think gee, judging by her books she has a pretty good romantic(!) life, so maybe they can, too....

J.L. - what a lovely moment - glad to have helped spark the memory!