I feel it is not an exaggeration to say that many writers are what you would call introverts. The first time I went to my critique group I was terrified. Frankly, I probably never would have gone if I had not been urged by my illustrator. I am a bit shy by nature, and joining a group to share my work with people I didn’t know was probably the last thing on my bucket list. However, publishing a book was first on my bucket list, and I needed guidance from people who were in the same boat as myself.
I was welcomed to the Andover critique group and learned so much right away about writing and the publishing industry. Since that first meeting, a little over a year ago, I have managed to self-publish two books, The Smith Family Secret Book 1 and Book 2, I hosted an author talk at my school for grades 2 to 5, visited a teacher friend’s 4th grade classroom and even provided a hands-on workshop at my local library.
Even though every bone in my body rebels against putting myself out there, I have DONE JUST THAT, slowly, but with progress.
Confidence is the key.
Although I can be shy in my personal life, I am a natural storyteller and teacher. It’s in my genes! My father was a gypsy prince – yes, that is 100% the truth – and everyone in my family is a teacher. I also have confidence in my writing. When I allow myself to combine these things, I am very much at home.
My students, who see me every day at school and have probably heard all of my stories (at least twice), loved hearing the story of how I started writing The Smith Family Secret with only a first sentence to go on…
“Cardiff Smith loved to draw.”
… and how I had no idea what might come next. They asked what inspired me to write, and I replied that THEY did, of course.
In Mrs. Barenboym’s 4th grade classroom, they devoured everything I said, and started brainstorming their own ideas for sequels! They even gave me a great story starter for a Halloween-flavored Smith Family tale.
At the Wilmington Public Library I read a chapter from my book, which kids got a kick out of. Then we made our own moving pictures using the principle of persistence of vision with zoetropes and thaumatropes. They were excited about my book and art and I inspired them to create a bit of magic of their own.
And when it gets down to it, that’s all that really matters. I may never have a best seller, or make enough money writing to quit my day job and move to Tuscany – although one can dream – but I love talking to children and sharing my stories.
With them, I have the confidence to keep writing and keep putting myself out there. If that confidence bleeds into my regular life too, then I am a lucky girl.
Check out The Smith Family Secret Book 1 and Book 2 on Amazon.com.
Congratulations to Josh Funk, who won a copy of HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR CHILDREN’S BOOK by Katie Davis in our recent giveaway.
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My first ever critique group terrified me too! Thank god it got easier. Going to critique groups has vastly improved my writing thereby helping me become the confident writer I am today. 🙂
I envy you your confidence in front of a group of children because they can be the hardest audience to please. Interesting post.
I think if we continue to push forward even when nervous we’ll get more and more comfortable with our roles as author/speaker. If you speak to an audience with passion and your truth as a writer, you will appear confident. And kids are amazingly perceptive. I’m sure they feel your sincerity. You are a talented writer and I wish you many future successes.
Wow, Alison, has it really only been a year since you joined us? You fit right in, so it feels like longer! And I had no idea your confidence has ever faltered in any way, so you must be a good actor as well as a writer. 😉
Love this, Alison!