Tuesday, October 27, 2009


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.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Lisa. When I admit my nervousness about a social engagement to a family member, like my mom or sister, they'll usually start giving me advice on how to act or what to say. How to tackle it on the outside. I don't need that. I'm perfectly calm, cool and collected on the outside. I've even been complimented on public speaking in the past. If only those folks new how my stomach felt!

And you're right. We don't get as nervous about things that don't matter to us. Just the same, nerves, like deadlines (gee, those make me nervous too), can push us to do our best. I get nervous about embarrassing myself or coming across the wrong way. That's probably the root of my perfectionism.

Lisa Ruff said...

Wow! You could be me, lol.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

I can relate to nervousness in certain situations. I don't think my hands get cold. My nervousness usually manifests with an upset stomach.

Linda Henderson said...

I hate speaking in front of a large group of people. Im better than I used to be, but I still want to throw up beforehand.

Lisa Ruff said...

The funny thing is, once I'm up there, I'm fine. Except for the vampire-hands, of course.

PamStone said...

Boy did you gals make me feel better about my own nervousness.

One on one, I'm mostly fine. But in front of people or if the focus is on me, I get extremely nervous. I once fainted and fell off the bleachers during a school choir performance of Chrismas tunes.

And when it comes to something that is as intimately close to me as my writng, well, like Trish, I tend to get an upset tummy. I try to remain poised on the outside, but I'm not sure to what success. Things I say come out wrong. My voice shakes. And although I look forward to the National conference, it makes me almost ill.

Thanks again for helping me realize that I'm not alone.

Lisa Ruff said...

My theory is that the more you do it, the better it gets. But that's only a theory so far, lol.

Linda Warren said...

Thanks. It's good to know I'm not the only one.I get nervous, my hands get clammy and the words come out wrong. And in ten years of being published it hasn't gotten easier. I've just gotten acustomed to it. LOL!

Lisa Ruff said...

Wow, that makes ME feel better. Thanks!