In 2008 I went to Las Vegas for the first time with a friend and we stayed up until the break of dawn for 6 nights straight (way too long to stay in Vegas for a first-timer) in an attempt to take in EVERY possible thing that crazy town had to offer two young Canadian girls – well, not EVERYTHING, but you get my point…
One of the things we saw when we were there was a performance in a nightclub that has, to this day, captured my imagination and is my go to example of my personal fear of what it must look like for me to promote my work to an outside observer.
A couple appeared on stage wearing not much more than leather chaps and small chest coverings. These pieces were affixed with metal plates and set to the tune of some incredible thumping club hits, they proceeded to apply metal grinders to the plates to make the biggest spark show I had ever seen. It was gregarious and amazing! It was, to my mind, the very definition of a spectacle. I was truly entertained. I thought to myself, now THAT’s how you wow a crowd!
I mean, the club also had aero-acrobats, fog, flashing lights and flames shooting down from the ceiling, but man alive those grinder performers were nothing short of amazing!
Many moons passed and in that time, I found my passion for writing again. The problem was, I didn’t know how to get my words out into the world.
How do I make people notice me? Short of affixing metal plates to one’s bra and roaming the streets with a grinder, how does anyone manage to garner any other human person’s attention??
I lamented on the subject internally and to my close friends. One day I came into work and saw, in response, a friend of mine cut out an article from the newspaper speaking to that very issue and had placed it on my desk. (yes, people still do that)
She knew that I was – and continue to – struggle with this issue.
I thank her for seeing this, for hearing me. To truly feel heard is one of the most important things in this world for a person, no matter what the venue. I felt validated.
People are typically bad at self-promotion. We feel that people will judge us for holding ourselves out, to garner attention. There is something tasteless about it. At least that’s what we have been told. That sentiment has been drilled into us since childhood. “Stop showing off”. Okay, when is it showing off, and when is it self-promotion? Where is that line? I don’t know. It’s a feeling you get, or more to the point, it’s that feeling you get when others look at you with that wholly disapproving look.
I keep saying “we” and “us” when I should be honest and say me and I. I am very aware that not everyone has this particular issue.
This issue is quite problematic as a self published author, as one may well imagine. No one is going to magically know who you are or what your book is about if you don’t tell them. And in this seemingly social media driven world, it is hard to deny the fact that you have to “get out there” and keep “getting out there” in order to showcase your wares.
Every time I find myself losing confidence and wanting to shut myself up in a shell and just hope that people will stumble across my work and absolutely love it all by themselves, I look at that now yellowing article sitting on my desk and remember that this writing gig is a two part endeavour.
One part is for the love and no one who does this would argue against that point. The other part is business. It takes hard work and determination to write, and if your goal is to get your words into the hands of someone out there who is going to fall in love with those words, you have to let them know you’re out there.
So, take it from me, struggle against your inner shy person and take a step (or Tweet or blog post) into the spotlight – even if just for a second.
The feeling when someone reaches out to you and let’s you know your words – the ones you fought to get on the page, to put in the right order, and second guessed again and again – meant something to them, will fill your heart to bursting.
Take a chance on you. You won’t regret it.
A side note about this post: I began writing this post in October of 2018 and just could not bring myself to finish it until now. A lot has changed since then, but I am still essentially the same “Look at me, but don’t look at me!” Abbie. I just felt it was time to share this in case someone out there is feeling the same way.
Sometimes you don’t even have to use a grinder – but if you do, make sure you film it!