Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Potted Plant: My Nemesis

The picture of the potted plant above is my nemesis. It is a symbol of fear, of being silent and unsure. I had joked a few months ago that I would be the conference attendee who would find a big plant in the lobby of the San Francisco Marriott and hide behind it, peeking in between the leaves, watching everything going on around me. I had thought I left that part of me behind many years ago, but this past week all my fears have come to the surface.

A perfect example is the fact that when I am nervous, I don’t eat. When some are stressed out, they tend to eat everything in sight. As for myself, I stop eating. I have had horrible stomach craps all week because reality has come crashing down. (As for this coming week, who knows what my appetite will be like?) I am attending the 2008 Romance Writers’ Association conference in San Francisco, California and the question I keep acting myself is, do I really belong at a venue such as this? I have two little imps on each side of my shoulder. One is the self assured, head held high, Katie who will go up to anyone and everyone and hold out her hand and introduce herself. But then I have that bad little imp, the former Katie who would make sure her head was down, never make eye contact with anyone and would sit in the corner and make herself as small as she could.

I have tried my best to distance myself away from that person who stands in corners and observes everything that is going on around her, but won’t make her presence known. I am still very much an observer but I made a promise to myself that I would speak up and be heard. I am my own living example of my success. Wherever I go, whether it be the gym, a store or even a gas station, I speak to anyone. I try to go out of my way to be friendly and engage as many people as I can in conversation. Yesterday as I went to the mall to break my checkbook for clothes for this coming week, I found myself in Borders. Yup, I was weak and couldn’t stay away. Some invisible force just seems to push me in there. As I was purchasing a nice frozen coffee drink, I began chatting with the cafĂ© worker who waited on me. A half-hour later we were still chatting. I really didn’t have to go out of my way to talk, but I wanted to, because it is something I need to do. In the past I would have stuttered my order and kept my head down. Now I find myself looking everyone in the eye and speaking coherently.

Another big fear I am about to share, and only a few know of this, is finally meeting some authors that I have emailed back and forth with and have a wonderful relationship on-line (or so I think in my mind). I have this vision that I go up to one of them and introduce myself and they simply stare, smile, say, “Hello, nice to meet you”, and walk away. That is my biggest fear out of all about attending this conference. (worse than actually starting to pack. My luggage taunts me at this very moment)

There are bound to be many others with this fear that I speak of who are attending. I for one will try my hardest to keep these silly fears at bay. As I walk the floor, go to workshops and visit publisher signings, etc… you better believe I will be holding my head held high, look someone straight in the eye, hold out my hand and say:

“Hi, my name is Kate Garrabrant and it is a pleasure to finally meet you.”

**I am also bringing Scootaloo, the My Little Pony that Christine gave to me. She will be my mascot on this adventure. So, if you are attending RWA and see a tall redhead with a colorful plastic pony sticking out of her bag, that’s me! It could be a great conversation starter ;D**

Katiebabs (KB)


Jude said...

I love your conversation starter. :) That's a big step toward making it easier for people to approach you -- give them an opening line.

Have fun!
Blogging National

Rosie said...

Katie, I have to preface what I'm about to say by telling you that I know I have a great life and a wonderful husband and family. I even think of myself as a pretty practical and level headed person.

However, last night as I was drifting off to sleep I sat up in bed and said, "What if I'm at RWA and no one will talk to me. What if no one likes me?"

It's a new adventure and we are all excited and have apprehensions. At least I think normal people do. You have a great attitude. I know it's all going to be alright because that's what GG told me last night "Go to sleep, you'll be fine. Trust me." He would never lie to me. *bats eyes*

Jennifer Y. said...

Hi Katie!

Patti F. directed me to your blog and I have to say that I am 100% with you. I am going to the conference this year first one and I am so shy and nervous it is not even funny. I have all the same doubts and fears too...especially the one about meeting authors I have chatted with online for so long.

I went the big signing in Atlanta a couple of years ago and stood against the wall staring at authors rather than mingling...I am a wallflower. The authors I did talk with though were great and most recognized me from online (or at least pretended to...LOL).

And I love your pony...I will have a stuffed bunny with me. Bunny was supposed to be my stand-in when I didn't think I'd be going, but now that I am I decided to take her along. If anything, it will make people remember a good way, I hope...uh oh...there I go worrying again.

Kristie (J) said...

Well - I won't let you stand behind the plant. I'm that kind of person too, but thankfully I have Krisite I can call upon for those kinds of situations. I just channel her. I'll let her drag both of us around.
And though I've joked about it - authors putting their pants on one leg at a time just like us, well except for Meljean who jumps into hers (laughing), they are people too and just as prone to shyness as we are. So when going up to an author you've admired, just think to yourself 'I bet she's just as nervous as I am!'. And when you think about it, writing is a very isolated kind of career, so those who write full time are probably even less used to meeting large groups of people then many of us readers. So I'm sure it's just as difficult for them too. I'd be willing to bet a lot of them get just as tongue tied and nervous as we do!

Lori said...

Katie, I think so many of us are in the same shoes. Once I know someone (and I don't mean online, but in person), I'm fine, but until then? I'm a completely shy person. I can stay in the corner and never speak a word. I know, whoda thunk it? LOL.

So, how about if we all make a pact to prop each other up. If all the wallflowers stick together, then there is no such thing as a wallflower, right? Only a group of laughing folks that everyone wants to be a part of.

Katie(babs) said...

I think the hotel should get rid of all the plants. Anyone hiding behind one or against a wall looking saw will be dragged to every author table to say hello. :P
Bunnies and ponies included.

Leanna said...

Katie, with a My Little Pony at your side, you will now have confidence super-powers. Toys give me strength I never knew I had. :)