Friday, September 2, 2011

Confessions of a Wallflower

by Anne Marie Becker
(FYI: Anne Marie's debut novel, Only Fear, releases from Carina Press on Monday, Sept. 5! Congratulations, Anne Marie.)

I confess… I’m a wallflower at heart. Circumstances beyond my control have pushed me (shoved, really) into the spotlight repeatedly over the years, but I’m happiest when I retreat to my cave to write about things that only occur in my imagination.

The problem is… I’m precisely 6-foot-1-and-3/4-inches tall, and have been since the ninth grade. It’s hard to fade into the background when the gene pool has dealt me such a strand of DNA.

And I have been president of my local Romance Writers of America chapter for the past three years, and still have one more year to serve.

And having a debut book coming out has forced me into promo-mode.

So, I’ve learned to shove my wallflower-ed-ness aside and step out onto the dance floor when I must. Sort of like an anti-ninja. (Well, I still love wearing black. I mean, it is very slimming and all.) I’ve adapted to fit my circumstances. Instead of stealthy, fade-into-the-background, security-blanket mode, I’ve forced myself to get out there and be seen. To confront my shyness head-on.

How? I forced myself to volunteer. It started with my online RWA chapter, Kiss of Death, where I helped update the Librarian page and coordinate the judging for their annual contest. Then I was elected President of my local chapter, so I had to start standing up in front of a group on a monthly basis. Yikes! Then I began presenting workshops and pitching at conferences.

And it’s totally been worth the risk. Volunteering feels good, and puts you in touch with some amazing people. I’ve come to believe in karma, since the year I started putting myself out there was when I signed with an agent and finaled in and won the Golden Heart.

My mantra became: “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Portraying confidence is everything (even if you’re quaking on the inside). I learned this technique in graduate school as I was studying to be a mental health counselor. When I feel uneasy about presenting, I remind myself that I know my material, and that people coming to see me will want to learn that material. I pretend I’m some super-speaker who everyone is dying to hear, and that what I’ve written to say is the best thing since Shakespeare. (And then, of course, I wear my slimming black outfit that makes me feel confident.)

Wallflowers, unite! Let’s get out there and show them what we’re made of. Standing together, we’ll make very pretty, very smart wallpaper.

And a huge thank you to Rebecca for having me here today, and for providing this support system for wallflowers like me.

You can find more about Anne Marie and what circumstances she’s forcing herself into now on her website. You can also find her on Facebook (Anne Marie Becker, Author) and Twitter (@annemariebecker).

17 comments:

  1. Anne Marie, thanks so much for coming on here today! I totally get the "fake it til you make it" mantra. That's me every day. People would never guess I'm introverted and basically shy on the inside.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post, Anne Marie. I like your idea of being a super speaker that everyone is dying to hear. It's makes sense and is a great technique for having to talk to groups.

    Congrats on your upcoming Labor Day release of Only Fear. Best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Rebecca, you're very welcome. Introverts have a special place in my heart. The things we push ourselves to do to make it in our world... we're strong people!

    Mary, thanks! I was Valedictorian of a group of 600+ kids in my graduating class, so I had to learn quickly to get over the shyness. But the experience was invaluable! Now, whenever I face something tough, I think... "I spoke in front of thousands of people when I was 18. I can surely do THIS!"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh my gosh, Anne Marie, all this time I never knew you were a wallflower or an anti ninja! You have truly lived the words, "fake it till you make it." But I have a quibble. That's your perception. When Anne Marie Becker walks into the room, it's like a goddess has entered.

    You can sell yourself short, it's human nature, and part of your shy-rather-be-at-your keyboard scenario, but the writing speaks for itself.

    I'm so excited because Only Fear is the very next book I get to read. I've got my seatbelts fastened and I'm ready for the ride! Best wishes on your debut series!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anne Marie, I love this post. And wow, you are tall! :) I used to be sooo shy that I would hide behind bushes during recess while attending grammar school. I had a difficult time going to the grocery store until I hit my thirties. I am still making up for lost time. 2 of my 4 children were shy and I worked hard to teach them not to be. We are all people. We are all equals. There is nothing better than learning to believe in yourself and having confidence. It doesn't mean you have to be cocky or forceful either. I do believe in karma, too. And wearing black. You can't go wrong when you wear black. :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow, Donnell - a goddess? *blush* Gee, thanks. (And if you could see me now, sitting on the couch in my comfy pants and a "Michigan Engineering" T-shirt I stole from hubby, you might take that back. LOL)

    But I do like to think that I've faked it so long that I've made it... at least in terms of finding a certain comfort level when I present to groups or talk about my work. I do believe (strongly) that practice (the faking it part) does work. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Amen, Theresa! Confidence will get you SO far in this world.

    I was lucky to have certain measures of success over the course of my childhood (and adulthood) that helped me out of my shell. And I had such understanding teachers and role models. It sounds like you're that role model for your kids. (And how fascinating to have 2 kids who are shy and 2 who aren't! Must make for interesting dynamics in your household.)

    Thanks for stopping by! :D

    ReplyDelete
  8. Valedictorian, huh? I would've passed out, thank goodness I wasn't that smart, lol! re: fake it til you make it, anything is do-able with practice, however, I've found as I've luxuriated in hermit mode the last few years, I have to start back over with the whole faking thing as life has made me come out of my cave *grumble, grumble* Congrats and good luck with Only Fear!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Having heard that speech when you were 18, I can only imagine how much more amazing you are at it. CONGRATS on your upcoming debut (can you believe it's just days away?) You've been & always will be one of my heroes :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anne Marie--
    Tried to post, but don't see so I'll try again.
    I love your comments :) Fake it to you make it has always been my mantra...that and a huge paperclip to take care of the urge to talk with my hands.
    Good luck with your upcoming book!

    Jean

    ReplyDelete
  11. Whatever methods you have used to de-wall yourself, they are to be learned. I have seen you lead meetings, read your posts online, seen you take newbies by the hand and stand in front of 2000 people to accept your Golden Heart award with confidnce and poise. If the first step to acheiving all that is to volunteer while fakin' it, then everyone who reads this needs to follow your lead.

    Jacqui "Jax" Jacoby
    www.JacquiJacoby.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Diana - I love to luxuriate in hermit mode too. I have a picture of life dragging us out of our caves by the hair, as we kick and scream. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  13. Aw, Pang-Ni, you bring tears to my eyes. Love you, friend, and thank you for your support in reaching this milestone! (And it was you who mentioned the tunnels at Northwestern and planted the seed for some of the most intense scenes in Only Fear. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jean, hello and thanks for your persistence! I'll have to try the paperclip technique. The thing I have to work on most is eye contact. If it's a group of people I know, I'm fine. But with strangers, I have to be careful I don't lose my concentration if I look them in the eyes. ;)

    Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks, Jacqui. :) I had forgotten about getting up on stage for the Golden Heart (that night was such a blur of emotion!). I've been lucky, in a way, to have been thrust into situations like that, positive situations that help build my confidence.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love that mantra "fake it til you make it" And I think loads of people do exactly that. I have had to also be far firmer than I prefer to be, especially with my rights.
    Also, assume people would love to read your work.
    Like here, now.
    I have a 40% off coupon for my book. Email me.
    See, that wasn't hard, was it?
    Barbara Phinney
    https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/71597

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anne Marie,

    Thanks for sharing your story! I've felt the same for most of my life, and I never would have thought that I would eventually become a teacher (gasp!) and a writer. You're right--sometimes we're just "thrust into situations" that may be uncomfortable at first, but that ultimately let us grow.

    ReplyDelete