Now, a fear of microphones isn’t a bad thing…if you never have to get in front of one. But as an author there are ample opportunities to get up close and personal with a microphone. For a shy person, it can be a painful, humiliating experience as the microphone picks up every little tremor, every mispronunciation, and every mouse-like squeak. And isn’t it true, as a shy person that I am more self-conscious anyway? I think sometimes my shyness comes from my life-long struggle to be perfect. Intellectually, I know no one can be perfect. And yet I keep trying, and failing.
The microphone only magnifies this failing for everyone to hear. I learned this when I took piano lessons. Before each recital or competition, my mother would pull out the old tape recorder and set it up to tape me while I practiced. I learned to hate microphones then. Especially when, fancying myself a singer, I secretly tried recording songs—yikes! Who was that girl with the shrill, high-pitched voice? Certainly nothing like I imagined.
Somehow I ended up president of Dallas Area Romance Authors (1994)-really a great and supportive group of writers. But in looking back, just what was I thinking? I suppose when I first walked into my first DARA meeting that I felt so at home and so welcomed, I thought I could conquer the world. Here were people who “got me.” Each subsequent meeting only made me feel more powerful, who can fail with awesome writer friends--so what was a little microphone phobia?
Yet as the date approached for the first meeting with me as president, and I got to thinking about that microphone…um, yeah, not hard to guess. Nerve city. I suppose I should have gotten some counseling for the phobia, but I was a busy homeschooling mom of (at that time) four young children. (Now, I have six but four are grown, still homeschooling the last two). There was no time in the schedule for visits to a counselor.
I had a writer friend who was also a college teacher—an awesome college teacher, I took her scriptwriting class and was never bored. She told me she practiced her classes beforehand. So I figured I’d try that. The whole talking in front of a mirror thing only made me more self-conscious, but I found I could drive around in the car and talk to myself. Which is what I did.
By the time January rolled around and my first meeting, we’d moved over an hour away from the DARA meetings. That gave me a whole hour alone in the car to practice and picture in my mind how the meeting would go--these days they’d call it creative visualization, but I didn’t know that at the time. But I’d picture myself in front of the microphone, picture how my voice would sound reverberating to me and practice what I was going to say. That worked really well for the first few months. Then, one month I gave a ride to a friend and DIDN’T do my practicing and visualization (I figured it’d be okay, after all, I’d handled the microphone so far ) it didn’t go well. Right before the meeting I started worrying that I hadn’t practiced and I didn’t have time to conquer the nerves before I had to get in front of the microphone. That was a painful meeting for all involved, I’m sure.
I did think I had conquered this phobia even though I’d avoided microphones all the years since, until I made my first sale. At DARA they present you with a first sale rose and you get up and accept the rose and tell everyone what your book’s about—with the microphone. How had I forgotten that detail? So no, I had not practiced on the way. When I realized, pretty much last minute, that I was going to have to take that microphone, I started making mental notes, which is not the same as talking to yourself and visualizing how it will go. Too many people around, too many distractions and nerves had a chance to really take hold. When it was time to tell about my book, I took that microphone and pretty much went blank.
This experience taught me I’m never going to be over my fear of microphones, so the next time I will make sure to practice, practice, practice!
How about you? Do you have phobias? If so, how do you deal with them? If you’ve conquered them, spill!
Diana Layne is an award-winning author of PIRATE’S PROPOSAL, a swashbuckling pirate tale in The Tales of The Scrimshaw Doll series, and THE GOOD DAUGHTER: A Mafia Story (Vista Security prequel). Book 1 of the Vista Security Series, TRUST NO ONE (also her Golden Heart® final) is due to release the first of June. Check out her BLOG post to find out how to get an ARC of TRUST NO ONE (and to see the new cover), and her WEBSITE for buy links and to sign up for her newsletter to keep up with her releases.