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Beyond My Comfort Zone

I’ll soon be leaving the safety and security of my writer’s cocoon and venturing well beyond my comfort zone. And for an introvert like myself, that’s sort of scary. But it’s necessary, even critical, for my continued life as a writer. A man has to do what a man has to do!

So what is this dangerous assignment I’ll be venturing forth to complete?

I’ll be attending a writers conference.

Oh, is that all? you’re probably thinking. That’s not so bad. What’s scary about that?

Oh, it’s not the attending that’s my problem. I can sit and listen to the presenters with the best of them. I’m a good listener. And I know that I’ll learn something from just about each one of them.

So what’s the big deal? you ask.

Here’s the big deal. Between presentations there will be (at least there’s supposed to be) interaction among attendees, and they run the gamut of experience from successfully published (and selling) authors to never-published wannabes. All of them seem eager to talk about their work–even those who have never been published or even some who have never written.

That’s the rub for me. Although I’ve been published, both traditionally and self-published, I’m not comfortable talking about myself. Self-promotion has always seemed to me to be so, so, well–selfish. Besides, unlike my brother, I’m not good at talking off-the-cuff. Prepared speaking to groups is fine, but spontaneous repartee and small talk are not my cup of tea. I’m a good listener, but there’s always that one person who talks and talks, usually about self. That’s when even listening becomes a chore for me.

But there’s more scary stuff. I’ll have a display of my books for sale, and I’m expected to be beside it during free time between sessions. In case someone wants to buy a copy or two. In case someone wants an autograph with the not-famous (or the infamous) author. In case someone wants to talk. Did I mention that I’m not good at making spontaneous small talk or self-promotion?

I can understand better now why Emily Dickinson was such a recluse.

I’d like to let attendees know about my soon-to-be released book COMBAT! Spiritual Lessons from Military History (TouchPoint, 2020), but I don’t know what to say in answer to the inevitable questions.

Q: When will your book be released? A: I don’t know. Sometime in 2020. Q: Can’t you be more specific? A: No, the publisher hasn’t said.

Q: Can I preorder a copy? How? A: I don’t know. The publisher hasn’t said.

Q: Can I at least see the cover? A: I don’t have one yet. The publisher says they’re working on it.

Q: Could you define “working on it”? A: ???

Those are some of the reasons I’m a bit intimidated attending this conference. And I haven’t touched on the fact that I’ll be (based on prior experience at this conference) one of only a handful (and a very small hand at that) of males present. Females have always intimidated me. Maybe that’s why God allowed me to have a wife and four daughters, to prepare me to attend female-dominated writers conferences.

But I’m trying to focus not so much on my fears as on the future of my writing, on learning things that will improve my writing, help me expand my platform, and maybe even extend me beyond my nonfiction writing into fiction. Maybe I’ll discover that it is possible for an old dog to learn new tricks. Maybe I’ll expand my comfort zone a bit.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even sell a book or two.

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