At conferences and book signings, I meet two types of authors; the boasters/natural spotlight grabbers and those who slink into corners avoid the casting glare. Of the bestselling authors, I feel this would be the category of Stephanie Meyer and Stephen King. I have seen numerous TV interviews with the vampire novelist, but have only heard quotes from the king of horror. On the few pieces of interviews I have seen, King seems to tolerate the exposer while Meyer greets it with open arms.
I think when people picture a writer, they imagine a loner one might turn in to security as a weirdo. Can you imagine in today’s frightened era of school shootings what they would think of a child writing topics like Stephen King? I once wrote of a family’s mass murder when I was in the eighth grade. My mother, who knew I loved to write, even raised an eyebrow at this one. The stereotype of the socially awkward introvert is understandable. Writers have to practice their craft alone. Writing stories just doesn’t seem to work with a lot of distractions.
It seems to me more writers tend to be boisterous…at least those hanging out at conferences and signings. If it weren’t for Stephen King, I would believe my success as a writer failed at birth. In high school, I wanted to be invisible. I was perfectly content alone, creating the world of Atlantis. The characters in my head were my friends, which I know sounds horribly sad. But they never betrayed me or created unnecessary drama. And, when I needed them, they were always there to hang out. Not a bad friendship…except that the exclusion of real relationships is detrimental on numerous levels.
Anymore, the industry seems to push writers toward marketing their work. For me, I feel at a disadvantage. I can’t meet five people on a bus and by the time I exit have them aware I’m a writer. If taking bets, it would be good wager they could only conclude that I am a girl. I want to push myself out there, but something is engrained deep inside that stops my words. When writing, everything flows. When speaking, my knees shake and my mind refuses to cooperate. I have often asked myself how much I have to change for the industry. On some levels, I feel I have changed a lot. I actually spoke to a room full of adults about my books last summer. But, deep down, I am still the same shy girl I was in high school. I prefer solitary with the curser sweeping across a previously blank page.
But I am willing to change if it means people discovering my characters. I may not become at ease with the spotlight, but I am willing to stand tall and proclaim that my books are just as good as any other. I think that is the point. Adapt to the demands, but stay authentic.