I made the following comment yesterday on Facebook in response to a friend who’s been supportive with respect to the endoscopy I was scheduled to have today, which incidentally went well and I’m now just waiting for the biopsy results (I hate that word…can’t they come up with another word other than “biopsy”):
The first time for anything is always a bit anxiety-provoking.
Makes sense, right? At least for me it does. There are a number of people that are exceptions to this…or at least they maintain the appearance of not being easily phased by things…. like first time book events, for instance. Ahem, and I think I can name a few people I know who fall in that category….I won’t mention them here, but you know who you are! And you are constant sources of inspiration to the fraidy-cat that I am.
Well, never having done a book event before, I was nervous as heck in the days leading up to it. It would have been in the weeks leading up to it as well if I hadn’t been as busy with work and other matters (including concern for my mother who had had spinal surgery a few weeks ago and just went home today from the extended-care facility she’s been staying at for the past 4 weeks). I only started preparing for the book event last Sunday. I thought it was just a matter of picking an excerpt and reading it out loud until I felt comfortable. But it went a little beyond that. Thankfully, I received some helpful direction from a friend of a friend who is a fellow author. He very quickly responded to my Facebook message last Sunday morning, giving me a quick run-down on what he did for his first book event. He indicated, to my dismay, that he had started preparing for his first reading THREE weeks in advance of the event date…and here I was preparing 4 days in advance. Trying to keep me from panicking, he indicated that it could be done in less than 3 weeks. But there is quite a bit of difference between 3 weeks and 4 days…GULP!
Anyway, I’d hate to think what would have happened had I NOT received his helpful tips. From the time I received his tips last Sunday morning, I immediately went to work taking the excerpts I had picked and whittling it down to 3000 or so words. Enough for a 15-minute read, which is just the right amount of time before people’s eyes started to glaze over. As soon as I got my excerpts ironed out, I put together a brief Intro to the reading. On each of the four days preceding my book event, which was this past Thursday, I practiced reading the Intro and excerpts out loud ten and three times a day, respectively. I even staked out a room at work to practice my Intro five times for 30 minutes during lunch! By Thursday, I could speak to my Intro just referencing it occasionally, and I grew comfortable with the reading of my excerpts. My worst fear was blanking out like a deer in headlights from the nervousness which I knew without a doubt would confront me as I got up in front of the individuals who came to the book event.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen. My last speech class (thank you Nicole of NWK Consultants!), had paid off immensely. But that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to try to combat my fear of public speaking. I will be attending more public speaking classes, and I’m even contemplating joining the local Toastmasters by me.
I would like to acknowledge that my very first book event, which took place at the Odyssey Bookshop in S. Hadley, Massachusetts on Thursday, April 26, 2012, would not have been as successful as it was had it not been for my friends Liz Friedman and Annette Cycon of MotherWoman. They rounded up a great group of ladies who took the opportunity to also share their stories as well. Nearly everyone shared, including Andrea, author of the blog Postpartum and Pigtails, who wrote this very nice post about the event! And in this group, I found out there are at least 3 ladies also interested in writing/publishing their memoirs. That truly thrilled me to hear! And you can be sure I will help them any way I can!
Now, all I need is to continue with book events locally, following the same format as this past book event. If I can continue to encourage women to speak up about their experiences in a group and inspire people to publish their stories, I would’ve succeeded in my mission, which if you’ve read my book, you’ll know with my call both at the beginning and at the very end of my book:
I am a PPD survivor. Hear me roar. Will you join me?