The post below was originally written for The Vagabond Studio.
In 2012, I wrote a book called Invoking Nonna during NaNoWriMo. This young adult story quickly came alive through every click of the keyboard. I knew right away this story was too large for one book. I wanted to write a trilogy.
After months of edits and rewrites, the next step was to publish the story. I was thrilled, yet this self-doubt crept up. I became frightened by the idea of putting my work out into the world to be read and probably dissected by readers. I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Self-doubt is such a bummer, but very real and something many people deal with often. I sucked it up and thought about my children and what a great example I would be setting by writing and printing a book.
While I impatiently waited for my book to be printed, I began planning a book tour with my friend and fellow author, Taryn Hipp. We decided she would fly from her home in South Jersey and come to Olympia, Washington (my home) and embark on a weeklong Pacific Northwest tour.
I took out a map and began placing gold star stickers next to all the cities we wanted to visit. All professionals do this, right? Then, we began making a list of libraries, independent bookstores, collectives, and coffee shops to contact. Before we knew it, we had a confirmed tour schedule with the following cities: Portland, Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, Bellingham, and Vancouver BC.
After picking my books up from the printer, I cried. It was emotional to see my name and face on a perfectly bound paperback with covers protecting pages of a story that I created. I packed pre-orders and mailed them off – excited and scared at what readers would think of my paranormal tale.
Fast forward to tour time. When we were preparing to read at our first stop in Portland, I laughed that it was so easy to make adventurous plans while sitting behind a computer screen, but it’s an entirely different situation in person.
I stood watching people file in through the door and sit down waiting for our performance. I could feel my heart pumping faster than normal and my palms got sweaty. What if read too fast? What if no one laughed when I read the funny parts?
Many thoughts ran through my head as I waited my turn to read. I stood up and did my best to make eye contact with the audience while I briefly described the story behind Invoking Nonna. And then, I read one chapter from my book without any mishaps. The crowd clapped for me, and I realized that I survived all the irrational things that I feared would happen.
The next stop was a lot easier for me to read. I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I was during the fist stop. I thought that I had this touring thing under control until we stopped in Seattle. I knew I was in trouble when we walked in through the doors of the coffee shop and the place was packed.
My nerves jumped back on the roller coaster and went for a ride – up and down and back around. There reached a point where I didn’t think I could read. I was absolutely terrified. First, it was the largest crowd I’d ever read in front of – with close to fifty people in attendance. Second, there was a microphone! Yes, that microphone was quite intimidating.
One of the local authors looked at me and said that all I had to do was walk to the microphone and start reading. I sat for a moment and thought about that. If I didn’t read, I knew I would be very disappointed in myself. I mean this was my book tour. I had to read!
I was the last author to read that night. I smiled, walked up to the microphone, made eye contact with the crowd and realized they were just people. Humans that had aspirations and fears just like I did. They weren’t going to throw tomatoes or laugh at me. So, I read and once again, I survived.
Why did I tell you all this? Because I want you to take risks and get scared. I want you to leave your comfort zone and try something new. I don’t want you to give up on your goals or dreams. They’re waiting on you.
Going on tour was one of the greatest gifts I have ever given myself. I learned a lot about how I work in unknown territories, and I feel like I have grown tremendously as a creative person. My tour experience reinstated my belief that nothing good in life comes easily, so pull on your boots and get to work.