“Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.” John Green
Writers are notoriously known to be introverts. It makes sense. Who else would choose to hole themselves up alone in a room for hours on end immersed in one’s own thoughts and imaginings? When the other kids are yelling for you to come out and play, you shut the blinds and pretend you’re not there. When given a choice between going to a party and staying home, home wins out every time. When you do go to the party, you wind up talking to the cat. Sound familiar? This is me, for sure.
Some people think introverts make better writers, because they are more aware of their surroundings, more at home in their heads. But writing is only half of a writers’ job. The other half is shameless self-promotion in the form of readings, presentations, and author events, all of which require taking your introverted little self out in public. What could be more alien or abhorrent to a true introvert than talking in front of the masses? Public speaking scares most people, but for an introvert, it’s a version of absolute hell.
There are solutions though, and no, it’s not imagining the audience naked. For me, it’s slipping on an alter ego, one that can withstand the rigors of crowds and confusion; one that is not the least bit bashful or shy.
Let me introduce you to ~Mollie Hunt Cat Writer~ (or MHCW for short). MHCW is part Wonder Woman, part Audrey Hepburn, part Hillary Clinton, and part my mother. She is talkative, friendly, self-assured, assertive, and a little bit loud. She is thick-skinned and cannot be offended or hurt. She is part cat. These are her super-powers.
The template for this alter-me was first invented when I did antique and collectible sales, so I guess she’s part hawker* as well. I needed her because, on my own, no one would notice me let alone buy my wares. I’d had some acting experience which I used to develop a persona that worked for the situation. Now I carry that into my writer’s life, not to sell stuff but to sell myself.
The world is a scary place. People may not like me. I may mess up and forget words. Things may screw up that are out of my control. I may spill coffee down the front of my dress. But whatever happens, MHCW can deal with it. I have to believe in her, because otherwise I would never leave my house.
If you want to see how it works, just come watch me speak at the International Cat Writers Association Conference in Houston. (Yikes!) I’m giving a presentation called “Changing the World Through Fiction: 7 (plus 1) techniques to effectively promote your point of view.”
*For more on hawking, check out my blogpost, Hawking Your Wares, from November 19th, 2017.
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