Having had what I think of as the misfortune of being interviewed for local radio and local television in recent weeks I came to wonder at what point do writers become less camera shy and more at ease with putting themselves out there?
I am naturally reserved, preferring to hover at the back of a room than to be in the spotlight. I’m also extremely inept at making public speeches and even reading excerpts of my work in a closed writing class used to give me palpitations. So how do authors do it? After all, it’s one thing to write a novel and have it published, but the battle to sell it then begins and promotion and publicity are the key factors.
Surely writers are much more comfortable putting pen to paper and thinking about the words they string together than forming thoughts off the cuff and having to articulate them? After my radio interview I couldn’t even remember what I’d said, let alone feel that it was a coherent and worthy media piece. The same for the television one. I know that had I had the opportunity to write the answers down, they would have been remarkably different to the ones I gave on the spot.
Does it become easier? Is media presence something that can be learned? Can you ever feel comfortable watching your own image or hearing your own voice?
It’s lovely to imagine that one day I’ll be able to answer those questions in the positive – but until then I’ll just keep plugging away at the first draft of the novel and let the demons of self-promotion inhabit my nightmares!
I promise it does get easier but that doesn’t mean you won’t regress and have some bad days just when you think you’ve got the hang of it! Very much two steps forward and one step back although most times it feels more like one step forward, two steps back 😦 The good news is that your friends and family usually see/hear it all through rose-coloured glasses and think you were brilliant – and probably we are a whole lot better than we think we are, just too close to it to be objective.
I’ve been doing talks and teaching workshops for a few years and I have to say, for me, the nerves and sense of inadequacy got worse! One time I shook so bad that one of my legs was jumping up and down, banging on the stage. The panic was so bad I was getting off stage not remembering a thing I’d said. I went to see the doctor after that…
But it’s (almost) always worth it and it always goes well.
You’re right about the fact that authors such as yourself have to play this other role now, when their ‘real job’ is the opposite (sitting in front of a screen, alone). And it is strange. I have a few writer friends who say they want to be all rock star like MJ Hyland and limit their appearances, etc., but hey, she’s a name and her books sell anyway. It just seems to be, generally, the way it is these days.