It is one of the great contradictions of my life that, while awkward at conversations, I interview fairly well.
Today, for example, was full of the sorts of events that drain me socially. After lectures from Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Dean Wesley Smith, and Todd McCaffrey, to name just a few, we formed an assembly line and each signed several hundred copies of our book. Book signings are strange: common sense (and Dean Wesley Smith) dictate that it’s a bad idea to use your legal bank signature for this purpose, so you have to make up a new one, which feels unnatural. You want to personalize, experiment, and savor what you’re doing, but there’s no time.
During the afternoon, we attended a barbecue. Dozens of famous writers and top editors from publishing houses and genre magazines showed up, making this obstensibly one of the most important events of the week career-wise. It’s also the sort of event that exhausts me. It wasn’t that the other people were demanding; I got to talk with Nancy Kress (who wrote Beggars and Choosers) and her husband (who won a Philip K. Dick award), both of whom were delightful. I’m just not cut out for saying anything intelligent during group events like this. I always worried that poor networking skills will sabotage my career.
When I did engage a man in conversation, he turned out to be a talkshow host and the producer of a major podcast/FM radio network, with millions of views across the various shows he manages. He’s here doing interviews with all of us, and invited me and several others to come up and record. I was nervous, but not too nervous; I already knew that I’m decent at interviews. This is probably the result of good teachers and a fair bit of practice thanks to my podcast and YouTube channel. When my turn came around, I found myself just sort of shifting into my professional personae, who says far more erudite and interesting things than I’m capable of in my native state. It really feels like I become someone else. It’s not intentional hypocrisy, but I like reaping the rewards.
The interviewer loved it, said several times that I was a fascinating guest, and we chatted for quite awhile. He wants to schedule another, longer session in a few weeks, and I think the first show will release in December. I’ll share a link when it does.
Anyway, all of that to say: don’t limit yourself. Even if you think the business/networking part of writing is just too scary, don’t sell yourself short. Work hard, prepare as best you can, and you never know what hidden talents you’ll uncover.
P.S. I also got to have lunch with Dave Wolverton and ask him a ton of questions about career trajectory stuff, which was amazing. Dave is one of the kindest people here, and he’s so genuine in his desire to help aspiring writers. I’m incredibly humbled by the chance to learn from him.