At a opening faculty meeting, when asked to introduce myself to the new faculty and mention a highlight from my summer, I announced to everyone that I had finished revising my novel, that I had been blogging, and that I had just gone live with my website (www.jcopenhaver.com). As I did this, I felt very self-conscious. I knew I would. I never know what people will think. Of course, a room full of teachers and educators couldn’t be a nicer, more responsive bunch. However, it always sets me on edge to talk about my book, particularly in a public setting.
Obviously, this is something I just need to get over. In fact, I feel that I’ve made a lot of progress in talking about my book and quickly defining it: a-historical-literary-mystery-set-on-the-homefront-during-WWII-which-examines-issues-of-sexual orientation-and-identity-during-that-time-period. Of course, it still doesn’t come out all that smoothly.
Where does this hesitation, this—let’s just say it—insecurity come from? I’m a good writer. I believe in my novel. Why can’t I just feel at ease when chatting about it? I have a theory . . .
During one of our opening meetings at school, we have a slideshow which features photos that faculty have submitted about important or interesting summer events in their lives. Newborn babies were a major feature this year. I had several fellow faculty members, when talking to me about my novel, liken my finishing the novel to having a baby. The metaphor works well. Perhaps, too well.
As my brothers and I were growing up, my mother felt very strongly that parents shouldn’t brag about their children. So, of course, it wasn’t a behavior she indulged in . . . at least to my knowledge. In a quiet way, I think she would let it be known that she was proud of us, but she wasn’t going to “go on” about us. Of course, as a kid, I wished she had “gone on” a bit more about me, but as an adult, I understand that she didn’t want me to “think too highly of myself.” Humility is never a bad thing to instill in a child, right?
Unfortunately, when I hesitate to talk about my novel, I’m treating my newborn the same way. The metaphor holds. I don’t want to be one of those writers who “go on” about their books, I say to myself. What will they think if I tell them that I believe it’s a good book and that it has a great ending! One doesn’t talk about his child that way. That’s not how I was raised.
To promote a book, however, you do need to be able to talk confidently about your work and tell people that it’s quality goods . . . I’m learning slowly but surely to do this.