I love writing. I can spend hours at the keyboard spinning tales and describing the worlds floating through my mind. And I’m more than happy to send those stories out into the world for others to read and enjoy. But when someone asks me the oh, so simple question ‘what’s your story about?’ I freeze. My mind goes blank and I look like a guppy fish out of water, my mouth opening and closing but no sounds coming out.
If I’m lucky, and I rarely am, something intelligible but inane eventually finds its way out of my mouth. Fingers crossed the person is kind enough to think me funny and laugh over how silly I sound. Most often I get a look that conveys both pity and compassion. A few times, as soon as my guppy fish impression begins, the person takes the opportunity to flee the topic of conversation and turn it to something about themselves.
I’ve watched others talk for hours about their projects; their chests puffed out with understandable pride in their creations. I envy their ability to speak, especially eloquently, about their creative endeavors but have not been able to jump in with any talk of my own.
I am now in a place where I am trying to market my work, and funnily enough, this has become my biggest stumbling block. I’ve tried pretending the story is one of my kids and talk with parental pride about it. I still get tongue tied. I’ve tried talking about the story like I’m talking about a friend’s work instead of my own. My inner shy being wins out and soon the words are babble that don’t even make sense to me—the person speaking.
But I’m determined and I’m not going to let this slow me down.
Then I had the idea to write a script to help me through the guppy fish impression. It’s not a complete script for me to memorize--I’m not fabulous at that and I don’t want to sound rehearsed. It’s a rough outline of the major points I want to hit on like a rough draft of the blurb I created to pitch my story to publishers/agents.
I have that with me when calling bookstores to see who would be interested in carrying my novel. I also read it a few times to my family, and anyone in my trust circle who would listen. I’ve read it enough times to become familiar with it, so that when someone asks me, ‘what’s your story about?” I can give an answer that will not only make sense, but might also snare them into asking if they can read it.
I hope that one day talking about my stories will be easier for me, but for now this is what I have to work with and it seems to be working. At least I’m not looking like a dying fish anymore.