I’m an introvert with a constructed extroverted facade. I teach by profession, so I’m out there, dynamic, loud, but constantly practicing breathing techniques to get over my anxiety of talking in front of a group or person or people I don’t know intimately, and that anxiety hasn’t gone away, even though this is my sixth year teaching (and I’ve taught little people all the way up to college age).
I also can’t stand talking or being talked to constantly. I need pauses, breaks, silences. When I switched from working one-on-one and small groups to a traditional classroom setting, for the first several months I drove to work in the morning with the radio off to prepare myself for the day. There is so much talking and noise during learning, and it’s good and necessary, but my auditory mind needed stationary rest before all of that. Now, I’ve built a enough tolerance that I can talk on the phone with a close friend or listen to a podcast or audiobook.
So, when people started telling me, “I bought your chapbook!”I internally recoiled. The attention! The questions! The compliments! All of it, uncomfortable. Writing has felt like a very private act, one in which I might let people privy to in blog posts or my own descriptions. But when the element of anyone anywhere being able to get my tangible work in their very hands, my automatic response was recoil, don’t bring it up, don’t talk about it, say “thank you” through gritted teeth, do the necessary grunt work of posting announcements and maybe even doing a reading, but that’s really enough. If it’s like this for me in a chapbook with a small print run, I can’t imagine how awful it’d feel for me if I was publishing something..big.
But one of my deepest wishes since third grade was that I’d publish a book some day, and here I have it, and here several copies loll on a shelf reminding me of my imperfections, natural quietness, and sense of being pinned and scoped when I’m suddenly the focus of attention.
This is all a process. I imagine with some time, it’ll be easier, and many who love me have been gently pushing me to do things like a reading, like fill out some paperwork so a few copies will be sold at a local bookstore, like continue to send out my full-length. For now, I have this tiny chapbook with a lovely cover that is solely mine.