According to studies, Americans' number one fear is public speaking.
Death ranks second.
Writers are often called on to speak in public—at booksignings, at conventions, on panels at conferences, in front of groups. Yet we probably are less suited to it than the average person because we are often introverts, preferring the quiet solitude of our office to anywhere else.
My solution to this dilemma has been to create a separate persona that I take out and dust off for public appearances and put away the rest of the time. I let my persona give talks and schmooze at conferences while I stay in the background, watching.
Unlike me, my persona gets a rush being in front of an audience. Unlike me, my persona does not speak in a monotone in public. Unlike me, my persona stays calm when she forgets what she wants to say. She not only can make small talk, she enjoys it!
How did I go about creating my persona? I started with the realization that if actors can pretend to be someone completely different from their real selves, maybe I could too. I read books and attended lectures about public speaking so that I could give my persona a skill set. I studied extroverts to see how my persona should behave.
Separating "me" from my body and its actions and sensations might sound tricky. That art I had already learned in the labs and hospitals I frequent because of my systemic lupus erythematosus and other health problems.
There's just one problem with my persona. I still have to make the phone calls (and talk to live people!), write my talk, choose my outfit, and make travel arrangements myself. She does none of that.
But I'm working on it.
Do you have a separate persona for certain areas of your life? What does your persona do that you yourself can't or won't?
Writing this post, I realized that my persona has no name. Suggestions, anyone? Enter as many as five suggested names for my persona in the comments, along with your email address, by Memorial Day (May 31). The person suggests the name I like best will win a Like Mayflies in a Stream keychain-flashlight and bookmark as well as an Oriental carpet bookmark.
Thanks for dropping by! I'll be blogging at Novel Spaces again on Monday, June 7.