Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I'll take the corner seat, please.

Current Project: Many
Status: Still sane

This month's topics are both ones that make me cringe.

Conferences mean I have to leave my safety zone and go out among people I've never met or barely know and try and appear approachable when all I want to do in a room full of people is become invisible. It isn't in my nature to walk up to strangers and start talking. That's my husband's job. He does it well. He can strike up a conversation with anyone. I can't. I try every time I go to a conference. I push myself at least one day to make conversation with someone and I get nauseous just getting up the nerve to do it. I think of all the things I could say and then just sit there my tongue numb and my brain frantically trying to find a way out.

Now if I go into a workshop I'm teaching, I know what I'm going to talk about and I know the information so I feel confident. But to just strike up a conversation... what if they talk about something I haven't a clue about? What if they ask me a writing question that anyone up on publishing should know and I don't know the answer? Because most likely I don't since I don't focus my minimal brain space on that kind of thing. I focus on my writing craft and not all the politics. What if all they ask me is where I'm from and what I write? Whew... I can answer that but my overactive imagination can conjure up all the other scenarios as I sit there my hands sweating worrying how to start up a conversation. Yep, that's my neurotic self at a conference.

And pitching... I can have that sucker practiced and say it over and over in my head and out loud but someone ask me to tell them my pitch..Whoosh- it slips from my mind like a jewel thief, not even leaving fingerprints.

I hope you're much better at handling your nerves and hanging onto your sanity than I am. Are you social at conferences or would you be battling with me for the chair in the dark corner?


chanceofbooks said...

I haven't done a conference since 2005 Nationals, so I'm just in awe of anyone brave enough to pitch at one!

If I final in the Emerald City contest (most likely not, but never know), I'm going to go to that one. In the past, I've finaled in contests and not followed that up with conference attending to take advantage of the finalist status. And yeah, I'll try to follow your brave example and pitch in spite of nerves.

You rock. Are you doing nationals?

Paty Jager said...

Bethany, No, I'm not going to nationals but I'll be at Emerald City. I'm teaching a workshop there.

Genene Valleau said...

LOL, Paty! I consider myself an introvert, but am able to strike up a conversation with almost anyone. Don't like silence when other people are around, I guess. I've developed the ability to ask questions or make comments that will get people talking about themselves or compliment them on something they are wearing, then all I have to do is make encouraging noises and ask more questions. Not hard, since I'm curious about pretty much anything.

Pitching is still terrifying to me, and teaching a class is almost as bad--at least until I get going. Then momentum carries me forward.

But I'm only social in short bursts, then I want to go to my room and regroup. So I can definitely relate to seeking out that chair in the corner seat. :)

Christine Young said...

Your blog reminded me of a past member and how easy it was for her to make conversation. We were in an elevator at the Emerald City conference. She held out her hand to a lady who had just stepped in and said, "Hello, will you be my new best friend?" It was Damaris Roland a past editor at (I think Avon) it was a long time ago. (Not sure of the spelling of her name). But you can always try that tactic. Who knows you might meed someone famous in our business. Since then I believe she became an agent.

Paty Jager said...

Genene, I don't consider you an introvert. You're welcoming presence and genuine smile when I first came to a Mid-Willamette Valley event are what kept me coming back. You never pressured you just welcomed and made me feel a apart of the group even before I became one.

Chris, If only I could be so bold...

Sarah Raplee said...

I'm fairly outgoing among strangers. I like people, although I need plenty of quiet time to stay balanced. But I get nervous among strangers, too.

Pitching makes me nervous, but the more I do it, the less I stress over it.