Illuminating History’s Shadows Through Fiction
Illuminating History’s Shadows Through Fiction
True Confessions of a Virgin Blogger
Feb 3, 2023
So, this is the moment when ‘Imposter Syndrome’ kicks in, BIG TIME.
This plunge from being a Writer to an Author and addressing ‘the public’ kinda feels like that ‘first time’ when all your clothes came off and you realized you were naked in front of somebody.
In a few weeks, I’ll attend my first ever writers conference the Historical Novel Society of North America’s Conference. While I’ve been to many a conference, this won’t be one where I feel like I’m in over my head. This is my turf, my jam. I’ve read mostly Historical Fiction all my life. Heck. Now I’ve even written an Historical Fiction Novel, Red Clay, Running Waters.
What me, nervous?
I’ll admit attending a gathering of successful and passionate Authors feels more like going to The Ball than a conference (absent a significant number of Prince Charming’s, since most HF writers are women). But I’ve never called myself ‘An Author’ before. In Public. To other SUCCESSFUL AUTHORS. Yikes!
Yes, I admit to nervous excitement, and will concede to wearing clothes I don’t normally wear, and yes, even some make-up at the Conference, but folks, that’s more about making me feel better than to improve the view. And yes, I have swag to pass out, and that first time I talk about my book I will stumble all over myself.
Hand-up, I have a bad case of Cinderella Complex-itis. Behind the headshot, the website blurb, the social media presence, and the debut novel, like that proverbial ‘first time’, blogging and the marketing side are things I find daunting (aside for all the thoughts about ‘measuring up’). It’s one of the many components of turning from a Writer into an Author, a transition a whole lot harder than writing a book, IMHO . . . because it means getting out of your pyjamas.
For me, it’s never been about making my debut as ‘An Author’ – glass slipper and all. The real debut will be the reception readers give to the words I have put on the page. That’s what has me holding my breath, because that will determine if I ever need to write a blog, or attend a conference, or ever get out of my pyjamas again.
The Conference is only two short days but certainly a turning point on the road toward ‘Author-hood’, a road without Google Maps. Here’s some good advice about blogging that makes for pretty good recommendations for an interesting life too:
Advice #1 Be authentic, Be unique, Be Interesting. (No Pressure)
The seeds for Red Clay, Running Waters sprouted in 1999, with lots of assumptions, aspirations, and absolutely no idea what I was doing or how to write a novel. Oddly enough, that didn’t scare me. All I had to figure out was how to find the time to turn the years of research, a wall of post-it notes, and some pretty bad storytelling into a novel. Simple. I’d read LOTS of novels.
What I find fascinating about Historical Fiction is that there’s so many stories behind a story, so I have plenty of material (on the cutting room floor and in my head) to make my blogs interesting – I hope. Mostly I’m curious about what you are curious about. And, since we are all unique . . . being unique is a given. I’m too old to be inauthentic any more – waste of time.
Advice #2: Be Valuable, An expert. Know what you stand for.
Being an expert sounds pompous, which is so not me (I hope).
I don’t think well on my feet, and the thought of speaking as an expert to a live audience doesn’t describe my idea of fun. What do you mean I have to entertain and enlighten? I was just following my curiosity and passions.
But ‘finishing’ my novel, I was forced to come face-to-face with my pyjama-clad-self and ask whether I would make good on my most important goal . . . that the world know the story Red Clay, Running Waters contained, and being ‘An Author’ was the price of admission. In the process, I became an expert in things previously unknown to me and gained insights I never anticipated. Happy to share in the hope these things hold the same value and interest for you as we go forward sharing this journey.
And knowing what you stand for takes a lifetime to define, but I’m working on it.
Advice #3: Ask Questions, Be responsive, It’s not about you.
Do you turn away from writing a blog, doing an interview, or putting your face on a webpage, or do you ‘go all the way’, in the hopes of the story getting told, a community built with an audience who appreciates the story you tell?
Crossing from Writer to Author forces me into the spotlight – or crosshairs as the case may be – to work towards satisfying my readers, enlightening and delighting in person, and doing justice to the people and times I write about. As I think back to what kept the wind in my sails over the years of writing – the burning desire for the Ridge’s story to be told, telling their story was not about me, it was about illuminating a part of American history and shining a light on lives that had been in the dark too long.
While I may wish I’d discovered I could write a book sooner, in December when Red Clay, Running Waters is published, I will say, ‘mission accomplished’. If I had to guess, I’d say the fact that I’m percolating ideas for a second book means the trade-off of getting out of my pyjamas is worth it.
I’ll be posting pictures of locations, people and things related to the story, the conference, and a yet-to-be announced tour of important sites where Red Clay, Running Waters takes place on my Instagram posts.
Happy to have you as ‘travel partners’ on the road.
Wish me luck!