Do you get nervous? I do. Public speaking, flying, and being in a gale on my sailboat: all moments when my pulse speeds up. Lucky for me, I don’t have too many outward signs of my inward trepidation. To an innocent bystander, I can seem perfectly calm, cool and collected. Inside, an 8.2 earthquake shakes me. And my hands get cold. Really cold. It takes about an hour for them to warm up after the episode of nerves has passed.
I spent the weekend at the New Jersey Romance Writers Convention, “Put Your Heart in a Book,” and my nerves were right there with me. You see, talking about my writing makes me nervous, too. It is immensely important to me. It’s part of who I am. I am afraid that when I talk to others about my writing, especially agents and publishers, I am not doing justice to my written words. My audience will dismiss what I say, because I’m not saying what I ought. Have you ever had someone excitedly describe the plot of a book or a movie you haven’t read or seen? How long did it take before your eyes glazed over? I’m afraid that’s exactly what happens to anyone who hears me talk about my most cherished characters and stories.
At any convention, I try to meet as many people as I can. I ask a lot of questions. I am amazed by what others are doing, how prolific and creative they all are. Invariably, the people I meet ask me questions, too. My nervousness kicks in, but I answer as clearly as I can. I want them to understand what I’m writing, what I’m thinking and the delight I find in the writing process.
So, in a lot of these conversations, my hands go vampire cold while the rest of my body stays warmly mortal. I know when I say goodbye and shake that person’s hand, she’s going to shiver and wonder if she’s been unwittingly discussing romance with the undead. But that’s okay. I’m glad I’m having an attack of nerves. Because if my stories matter so much to me, then maybe—just maybe, at least when I write—I can make them that important to my reader.