Many, many months ago, Penny Warner asked if I wanted to spend a minute or two promoting Going Organic Can Kill You when she and Ann Parker had a book signing at the library in January. After my heart started to beat again and I remembered how to breathe, I gave it some serious thought. I really had no reason to say no, other than my absolute terror at public speaking, so I agreed. Besides, the signing was months away, anything could happen.
Sure enough, the signing was pushed back until mid-May, giving me five more months of breathing room and plenty of time to hatch a plan as to why I couldn't possibly attend the signing after all. Surely one of the kids would come down with malaria. Surely my husband would have to go out of town on business and I'd have no one to watch those kids with malaria.
As the months ticked by and May arrived, I started to feel a tickle of doubt. Everyone was so darn healthy. My husband had no impending business trips. Would I have to speak in public after all? Just in case this dreaded event actually happened, I drafted up a short pitch for the plot of my book and practiced in front of family members (on a side note, never ask two young children to be your pretend audience, especially when one of them is only 2. They're really not that helpful). I tried to convince myself that this brief speaking opportunity would be perfect practice for when I start doing book signings in September with Penny, Ann, and Carole Price, another debut author from my writing group. I won't be able to chicken out then, so I figured I might as well suck it up now and get it over with.
The dreaded Thursday was here. I fretted all day, practiced my pitch, and yelled at my kids for no reason other than I was too nervous to think straight. I picked at my dinner, practiced again while driving to the library, and then arrived with thirty minutes to spare, just long enough to work myself into a frenzy of panic.
Seven o'clock rolled around, and Penny started talking. I knew my time was coming. My heart pounded. My throat went dry. Why hadn't I remembered a bottle of water like my husband recommended? Penny called my name, and I stood. Then I rattled off my pitch, trying not to talk too fast, looking out at the crowd without really seeing anyone, and then it was over. Just like that. And it wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting.
Maybe I'm ready for September. Maybe I won't have a heart attack from the stress. Maybe this whole book signing thing won't be a disaster after all, especially since I'll be doing it with friends. I'm almost looking forward to it.
But not quite.