I woke up early this morning thinking about contests. Writing contests, beauty contests, spelling contests, I even wondered if there’s such a thing as sleeping contests, like who can best shut off their mind at 4 a.m. and NOT think about things like…contests.
Suddenly I realize why contest are on my (sleeping) mind. One of my blog supporters (we read each other’s blogs and learn about our writing pursuits, our love of shoo fly pie, and our propensity to be pranksters) suggested that now that I’ve published a book, I should do a “reading.”
The nightmares began. For heaven’s sake, I wrote the book, I edited the book, I published the book, I (briefly) promoted the book. Now I have to stand up in front of a group of strangers (or worse, friends), and read sections of my book to them?
I’m generally fearless when given a challenge, but my past races back to me, causing shivers and shakes.
Reading out loud.
I was in the Miss Junior Miss pageant way back when (and for reasons of vanity, I will not mention when the ‘when’ was). My high school compatriots voted me in, despite my pleas to not, in any way, even consider writing my name in their little slot of who should represent Pitman High. Unfortunately the tally had come down to Mary (the prettiest), Diane (the wittiest), or me (the dark horse), and next thing I knew, I was galloping along to practice my ‘talent’ for the county’s Miss Junior Miss Pageant. (Yup, that’s me, top row center.)
TALENT? Reading was the only talent I possessed at age 17.
Melanie? or Scarlett?
My favorite book back then was Gone with the Wind. I wished I was Scarlett, but I was worried that I was really Melanie. So, the light bulb flickered in my 17-year-old brain. Yes! I would be Scarlett, up on that stage. That would be my talent – acting out the ‘hunger’ scene in plantation clothes and with a lilting Southern accent (note to self: if born and raised in NJ, no way, no how will you perfect a lilting Southern accent within one month).
But I was young back then, as we are wont to be when we’re 17 (yes, wont is a real word), and I borrowed an old 1800s (tattered) dress and I practiced in front of the drama teacher and I found myself in front of hundreds of smirking teens and their parents (they were all rooting for the girl at their high school) stumbling along in Scarlett’s words:“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me….If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”
I memorized the entire scene. I scraped the old wooden auditorium floor as if it was a dried-up garden, and I shed real tears. I don’t think I humiliated myself, but I may have. I do know that afterwards, I swore that as God was my witness, I would never ever be part of a contest, or a beauty pageant, again.
But now, I’m a published writer, and we writers are supposed to ‘do readings,’ and offer contests of free books to grow our sales. Otherwise, our books will just blow like the wind, far afield and unfound by readers.
We’re supposed to promote, promote, promote, giving up our writing so others will buy our books.
Well, yes, that makes sense. How else will readers know our work is out there?
But you know what? For now, I’m going to hunker down at my computer and just write.
Sales of my book? I’ll worry about that later.
As Scarlett so famously says, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”
What about you? Do you have what I call “Scarlett Fever”? Fear of contests… fear of promoting yourself?
Or do you have a trick to make it all easy and…fearless.