I thought this only happened to stage actors. I remember a very, very long time ago, at the tender age of seventeen, myself and my best friend auditioned for a TV programme which was the X-Factor of the day, called, Opportunity Knocks. I recall that as I stepped out onto stage with the lights blazing in my eyes, my legs felt like jelly and my mouth like the Sahara. The first line of Montego Bay came out as a whisper, then a wail, then a screech that deafened me, let alone anyone else! Not surprisingly, we didn’t make it through to the next round and I vowed that I would never put myself in that position again.
So, roll on three or so decades later with my second book, The Little Book of Animal Wisdom, and that same feeling of wobbly legs, dry throat and a nervous fluttering in my stomach rises from the ashes. And accompanying these physical sensations is the voice in my head that urges me to run and hide, full of fearful questions: what if people hate it? What makes me think I can write? Even worse, what if people laugh at me? It seems that stage fright isn’t just the province of actors, but also of writers too.
The writing process and finishing your book is an exhilarating feeling – euphoric even. It’s like you’ve given birth. And in a way you have; you’ve nurtured this book inside of you and watched it grow. Now that it is birthed, the next stage is to share it with the world. Daunting to say the least – exciting too.
You are putting your book on the Centrestage for all the world to see, so it is natural that you would feel nervous. As writers, we do care very much about how our work is received. And it does bring up all those self-doubts, limiting beliefs and thoughts we have about our writing and ourselves. But there is also a sense of anticipation as we unveil our art for all to see. Far from being reclusive, we writers are real exhibitionists in our own way – and we love recognition!
Sharing your book with the world is a bit like watching your baby take their first steps – you’re excited by this next stage in their journey and, also, fearful that they might get hurt. And this cocktail of fear and excitement is a completely natural and vulnerable state of being. I believe it is part of the job description of being a creative artist.
I remember that at my book launch, I was excited about sharing my book, but also fearful. I was so worried that people wouldn’t like it. But, with a deep breath, I let it go, trusting that what I had written was perfect because I couldn’t have written it in any other way than I did.
You can buy a copy of The Little Book of Animal Wisdom from Amazon. 10% of each book sale is being donated to Oak and Burrows Wildlife Rescue Centre.