Lessons of An Independent Author: The Power of Facing Your Fears
Feb 25, 2015 by Lisa A Kramer, in A Writer's Life , Lessons of an Independent Author
I sit at a table in the middle of a bookstore, surrounded by magnificent shelves of books of every shape and size. It might be described as the place of my dreams . . . except . . .I wake up!
In between the stacks of books sit other authors, at their own tables, with quickly dwindling piles of their own wares. The lines of avid readers anxiously awaiting their autographs snake around the stacks, up and down staircases, over tables and chairs, out the doors, around the building. This dream bookstore is huge and beautiful, with secret nooks to curl up and read, and books soaring to the arched ceilings. The energy of excited readers is everywhere . . . except at my table. I watch from my lonely perch as the pile in front of me grows rather than shrinks. It is as if I am the writer in the plastic bubble, and nobody dares approach.
The other authors stand and sweep crumbs from empty tables, as the crowds leave, chattering with joy at their purchases. The authors turn holding huge stacks of money in their waving hands and start laughing at me, sitting alone at my table behind a mountainous pile of my own books . . .
The scene shifts.
I am sitting in an old college classroom from my alma mater. The incredible poster designed by my talented friend and cover artist Jackie, hangs over my head next to a sign in bright red letters "Welcome to your 25th reunion!" I am again surrounded by mountainous piles of books. Famous women come into the room--women known around the world for their glorious accomplishments. They are all wearing Wonder Woman sneakers. They pick up the book and say "what a beautiful cover" then they flip through the pages and tear each one out one at a time. A shower of paper falls at my feet, as the words become covered with footprints.
Welcome to my dreams of late. Crazy right?
Tomorrow I will attend my first official book signing at Wellesley Books (Thursday, Feb. 26th @ 7pm). In May, I will attend my (gulp!) 25th college reunion at a school that produces incredible, powerful women. I will, indeed, be having a signing there. In between I have all sorts of exciting events lined up: book store signings, book festival appearances, readings/talks with the woman's studies program at Providence College and more to come.
Yet, my dreams, my nightmares, haunt me. I face my fear of failure in my sleep every night.
It really is ridiculous. If I could point a magic wand at my own fears, my own "boggarts" then I would do it in a second.
You know what? I can.
Sure I don't have a real magic wand or real magic powers, except that I have the power of words and belief in my own book. I know it is good. Readers from all over have responded in such beautiful ways, how do I dare doubt my work?
Of course, some of this insecurity comes from the idea of making presentations and selling the work to people who I do not know. Despite the fact that I have grown up in the theatre and that is my primary source of income, I get stage fright. Despite the fact that I teach and speak in front of people on a regular basis, when it comes to presenting my own work my stomach clenches, my heart pounds, and the butterflies being born inside of me could repopulate a dying breed. I agonize over whether I will say the right things, or giggle too much (when I am nervous I giggle, and I was called on it by someone observing my classes for feedback once), or I will come off sounding like a babbling idiot.
Yesterday, I was interviewed for the university paper about P.O.W.ER. Even though I had just finished teaching a really good class and found out that one of my students almost changed his major because of me, I left the interview wondering did I make any sense. My biggest challenge as a writer, as an artist, as a person is facing my fear of believing in myself and my work.
If there is one thing I've learned, though, on this journey into publication--you have to be your own advocate. You have to believe in yourself and your work enough to demand attention. Nobody is going to do it for you. Sure, you can find people who support you and want to help spread the word, but ultimately it comes down to you.
I'm not going to lie and say that I am not nervous about tomorrow night. I am. I hope people come. I hope people buy my book. But, whatever happens, I know that I have worked hard to spread the word, put myself out there, faced my fears, and written a really good book.
I believe in myself and my work--that is something worth dreaming about.
In P.O.W.ER people learn how to use their own magic to make their dreams come true. Visit me at Wellesley Books to pick up an autographed copy, or purchase your own today.