Authors, Appearances, Anxiety, and Dropping One's Pants

I'm annoyed that my voice recognition software recognizes Ludwig Wittgenstein on the first try but doesn't recognize Miss Marple. Humph. (To be fair, it doesn't recognize Lord Peter Wimsey, either. But nor does it recognize Luce Irigaray. But it recognizes Jo March. But not Gilbert Blythe. AARGHHH!)

(Incidentally, my favorite VRS kerfuffle recently was when I dictated, "He dropped his pen suddenly and stood with eyes closed, massaging his hand," and my computer wrote, "He dropped his pants suddenly and stood with eyes closed, massaging his hand.")

So, I leave for Vail on Wednesday, followed by many cities in a short amount of time, and since I've never done a tour before, I'm not sure how much blogging time I'll have. Don't be surprised if you don't hear from me regularly for the next few weeks. (The tour ends October 15.)

There's an FAQ about being an introvert and dealing with appearance anxiety that I've been wanting to answer for some time. The thing is, I understand the question completely. I'm a tried and true scaredy-cat. But... I don't think I have anything profound to say. I have adjusted -- like crazy -- to a new way of living. This time last year I could not have done this conference followed by this tour. I simply couldn't have done it; I was too overwhelmed and frightened. Now, here I am, I leave in two days, and sure, I'm stressed out (I have a lot of laundry to do and I can't decide how many pairs of shoes to bring and I can't decide if one of my orchids needs a south-facing window while I'm gone and I think one of my speeches might be dumb), but I feel okay. I mean, what can I do? I'm prepared; I'll do my best; it'll be fine.

I think my answer to the "how does one deal with appearance anxiety" question is this: (1) When appropriate, prepare, prepare, PREPARE. (2) Do things, even though they're terrifying, and over time, you'll probably find that they get a lot less terrifying. And in the process, you'll learn which things you like to do and which things you don't; you'll learn how to say, No, I don't want to do that particular thing; and you'll decide what kind of author you want to be. You'll get to know yourself as an author, and even better, you'll come to trust yourself... and (*cue violin*) you'll learn that it's okay to just be yourself. :o) Roll your eyes, but it's true. And really, truly, it'll be okay. You can do this.

Here is a wise thing my editor said to me once: "Don't let fear make your decisions."

Here is a wise thing a dear friend wrote to me once: "Throw pleasing everyone out the window. Throw pleasing anyone out the window. Just do things for yourself. Just be you. There is no way on earth that just being you is not enough -- just being you is galaxies more than enough."

And here are a few lines I love from the movie Three Kings:

Archie: You're scared, right?
Conrad: Maybe.
Archie: The way it works is, you do the thing you're scared shitless of, and you get the courage after you do it, not before you do it.
Conrad: That's a dumbass way to work. It should be the other way around.
Archie: I know. That's the way it works.


Be well, everyone. Have a good few weeks -- I'll write when I can. And we'll see just how adjusted and courageous I'm feeling on Friday at noon, when I'm about to give a keynote speech ^_^. Wish me luck!


Anonymous said…
Thank you for such inspiring words. I want to wish you luck at the upcoming sales conference and on the first leg of your tour. Although, you really don't need luck... You will be absolutely fine without it. As cliche as it sounds try to have some fun too! :) I'm looking forward to hearing all about your adventures.
Artemis Grey said…
Kristin this ♥ is for you. Because you just made it okay for me to be struggling with catatonic terror at the realization that I'm about to fly (alone without any of my Clan) for the first time in ten years to a place I've never been surrounded by hundreds of people (who in my head I just KNOW know what they're doing while I don't) and then host a roundtable discussion which I've also never done before.

The worst part? I'm afraid that I will screw up chances to make a good impression on people because I've spent my life NOT trying to impress anyone. And now, possible opportunities as a writer DEPEND on my ability to at least come off as serious, yet fun, someone with potential, yet someone who's already polished enough to take a chance on. ARRGH!

But I feel better now, because I'm going to do it all anyway. And afterwards, it won't have been as hard as all that. Thank you Kristin!

And incidentally, I snorted coffee through my nose over your VRS and the 'He dropped his pants" thing. Perhaps I oughtn't have coffee at Sirens since I'm trying to look somewhat mature, and at least vaguely capable...
Lizzy Mason said…
You're going to be great, Kristin! I'm a publicist (and a writer) and lots of my authors are shy and prefer to stay out of the public spotlight. But I think that, while most of us writers are introverts, it's important to get out and meet your fans and see the impact your writing has had. And I know you're going to have tons of people come out to see you! So it'll be worth the anxiety!

I can't wait to come see you at Books of Wonder in November!
Jennifer C. said…
Chuckles- I can relate to the whole speech recognition frustration problem. It makes you wonder how it can get the most complex phrases and such, but a big one for me was that it wouldn't recognize the word highlight; though that might of had to do with my slight country accent, but I'm working on it! Anyways, good luck with everything and I love the Three Kings quote. ^_^
Shannon said…
How how how can VRS not recognize "Gilbert Blythe?" *sigh* How can _anyone_ not recognize Gilbert Blythe?

I'm intrigued by the idea of VRS. Never used it. I feel very old-fashioned, typing away. Kristin, you mentioned recently that you write in longhand. I never would have tried it, but I recently did out of necessity and found it had an interesting - and very positive - effect on my work! I thought I tired it more often, but crumple at the thought of all that transcribing. Perhaps VRS is the answer for me.

Good on ya for getting out there and putting in all those appearances, even while your knees are buckling! Along the lines of the good advice you got, a professor of mine once told me, "Anything worth doing is difficult." Which I mostly agree with. (But, watching sunsets? Not hard, very worth doing. Ditto for eating cookies, taking naps, etc...)

May the road rise to greet you on your travels!
JillinPC said…
Something my Mom says always helps when I have to speak in public.

"No one is as focused on you as you are."

Meaning, while people are listening to your speech they are also wondering if they fed the cat or if that little place around the corner is still open for lunch. And while they enjoy hearing what you have to say, they move on when it is over.

So whatever mistakes you think you have made, don't worry. Probably, no one else noticed. They are too busy worrying about whatever mistakes they think they made.
Anonymous said…
Gosh you're great.. I mean really GREAT. You can always make me smile. Have a lovely tour ;)

tinkandalissa said…
Oh, Kristin, I love ya for this post! Thank you for all your inspiring words. Seriously! I have severe public speaking anxiety. It's bad. I literally would skip school projects that needed to be presented just to avoid having to be in front of everyone. Not cool. I want so desparately to be a published writer, but I always wonder how I will deal w/this kind of thing. Ugh. So, hats off to you for getting up there and doing it!! You'll do fantabulous!
You had me cracking up w/the dropping of the pants thing. Ahaha! Too funny. I am very jealous that you have VRS. I want it! I just spent my week vacation w/my *new* bday laptop (yay!), (minus the internet until my wireless comes in), transposing my longhand notes into typed notes. I am nowhere near done. But it's good to go back and read some of that stuff that I'd forgotten about. I'm a little amazed that some of it sounds SO good! I'm like, damn, did I write that? Really? :)
Have a great time on your tour!
Isabel Ibanez said…
Have a heck of a time at the conference. Sherwood Smith is one of my absolute faves, so jealous you get to hang with her.

Miss Marple is a name I have heard in years! I was more of a Hercule Poirot fan myself. :)
Sarah Weir said…
I hope you tour is going wonderfully!! I am sure you will do great!! :)

I thought I would point this out if you haven't seen it yet. :)

You are number 21 for Graceling. Considering most of the ones before Graceling are Harry Potter, Twilight, and LOTR books, I'd say that's pretty cool!! (Not that I think Twilight is better than Graceling, as I definitely don't think so, but they are very popular right now.)
Best of luck, Kristin! I know you'll do GREAT!!
Kristin Cashore said…
Thank you, everyone, for the well-wishes and the advice!
Sarah said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said…
Kristin - I just discovered your books and your blog. I am enjoying both of them immensely. There are few books that make me want to stay up all night with the light on, reading way past my bedtime, especially when I have swimming class & work very early the next day! Graceling did just that. I love the way you write and your character development. And I loved the bits of humor....mainly because I love reading silently and then laughing out loud:) Can't wait for Fire and Bitterblue. Hope you enjoy your book tour! I lived out in Colorado for a while and there's nothing quite like the aspens glowing all golden in October. Good luck!
Charlotte said…
I totally understand how your favorite voice-recognition-software-misunderstanding can be the one involving those pants dropping. Hilarious ! And I'm sending you from across the Atlantic a big-mega-huge box full of courage for that tour. I'm sure you'll be great. I'm an actress, and yet I'm sure that all my life I'll be scared everytime I get on stage. It's scary, it's intimidating, but it is thrilling !
And as Cat Stevens says :

"Don't be shy, just let your feelings roll on by
Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there
Just lift your head, and let your feelings out instead
And don't be shy, just let your feelings roll on by"

Good luck Kristin !

PS : Word Verification this time was curedis. Cure this ? Cure what ?

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