Thursday, September 27, 2018

Have you ever felt compelled to do something? I mean the kind of feeling like ‘I have to complete this task! I was destined to do this before time began’ kind of feeling. That kind of compulsion doesn’t come around that often. In fact, I’ve only felt that way about a few things in my fifty-four years.
The most recent thing that I have felt compelled to do is to write the book, Leave Him?. Although there were times when I wanted to quit the task, times when I regretted the baring of my soul, and times when I felt writing and editing was just too hard, I pushed through to the end, publishing the book in May of this year.
The book took over two years to finish and took much out of me to write, but I will say that with it complete, I felt the satisfaction of accomplishing the job assigned. My struggle of late has been to figure out what to write next. As I think about my five in-progress works, I compare them to the feeling I had when writing Leave Him?. None of them seem to compel me in the same way. The struggle with this has made me realize that the writing of my memoir and the telling of my great-grandmother’s tale went beyond a desire to publish a book- this was a story that needed to be told.
I have decided on my next writing project, but part of my time will still be dedicated to further completing my compelling task with Leave Him? You see, the story that needed to be told also needs to be read. I am no stranger to marketing. I made a living selling advertising for many years, but marketing a book is quite a different undertaking.
Although the book is available for sale on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle versions, I do realize that some people don’t shop Amazon. I am working to have local places of business with print copies of the book for sale. The first location is Willis Jewelry Company located at 203 Adamson Square in Carrollton, Georgia. The owner, Chuck Willis, and I worked together on my first job many years ago at Baskin Robbins. The next location is the Therapeutic Lair at 723 E. College Street in Bowdon, Georgia. The owner, Leigh Hatten just might be mentioned in the book by the way. The third location is at the Wildwood Charm shop at 315 S. Hamilton Street in Dalton, Georgia. Wildwood Charm owner, Rebekah Conner, taught English with me at Douglas County High School for years. My latest local location is on the square in downtown Newnan, Georgia in Gillyweeds at 21 W. Court Street. Gillyweeds owner, Valerie Dumas’ mission is to feature local artists of all types in her shop.
Maybe you have thought about reading my book but ordering online isn’t for you. If so I hope launching these local purchase points will help. Selling more books is not my mission- I promise I have a long way to go before I break even on the expenses of publishing! I want to sell more books only because I want more people to read the book I felt so compelled to write.
For you people far away from our Georgia community, well I guess for now Amazon is your only choice. There are worse options. My delivery people know that we are Amazon believers since more than once a week they are dropping off a smiling box on our porch...

Friday, September 14, 2018

So, They Call It Social Anxiety, I Called It Painfully Shy and Alone

I just finished reading a book I ordered for my students. Working with teens should serve as enough of a reminder of my high school days. Getting in touch with that younger version of me is further intensified by my teaching at the same high school I graduated from MANY years before.

Each year at graduation, as we march onto that same football field where the awkward, terribly shy girl marched as a band-member, I try to reconcile the me I used to be with the me that I have become. Some days they feel the same. There are some days where grown-up me keeps quiet in meetings and hopes to not get noticed, just as teen-me did all those years before. Other days I am filled with a little more courage and stand with my adult accomplishments, whatever those may be, and dare to be seen. In other places, other settings, teen-me is not so present, and I embrace the freedom adult-me has earned.

Back to the book- The book is called How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat. The character in the book, Vicky, has got me thinking about teen-me. Throughout the text the character describes a condition I had never really considered teen-me to be suffering from called social anxiety. (You see in the early 1980’s we weren’t so eager to find a medical label for things - we just stuck with well-known names like shy, awkward, and weird. And those that suffered from debilitating fears were just expected to get over them, not understanding the origin or the commonality of their occurrence.) I spent my four years of high school giving myself the same ‘face your fears’ and ‘you have got to get past this advice.’ I’d have to say I was somewhat successful considering I did not say a single word to anyone my whole 8th grade year (yes, you read that right). By the time of graduation, I had found a small group of friends, began working, started college classes, and even dated a bit. I still cringed at the thought of talking in front of others or even having a deep, intimate conversation.
After getting married, the need to make more money forced me to pull up my bootstraps even further and spend every working day as a nineteen-year-old advertising salesperson, walking into the businesses of total strangers, making small-talk, trying to sell them an ad. I even became proficient at the job. Years after that shy-me faced more fears, speaking to groups that numbered over a hundred through a mouth so dry that I thought my tongue might stick to my teeth, classic cotton-mouth style.

The suck-it-up, bootstrap treatment I inflicted upon my younger self worked to a degree, leaving painful, terrifying moments emblazoned on my memories, but it never cured the root of the problem. The fears might have been defused if I had realized that I was not alone. This book reminded me of that. The main character uses social media to discover that others feel the same fears she feels, and then uses the social media to encourage others that they are not alone. We had no social media. You younger people may not realize that. In the old days, before cell phones or even beepers, I used to go to the library and read magazines like Seventeen to find what other teens thought or did, and those magazine articles were written by adults. There was no way for an introverted, social-anxiety-filled, teen to discover that they were not alone. I certainly would have never asked another teen. Even literature didn’t convince me that there were others like me, silenced by their fears.

When thinking about all the goods and bads of social media consider the aspect of connection. There is power in connection. It can be a freeing catalyst propelling people forward by knowing that they are not alone.

I wonder if teen-me would have turned out differently if I had been able to connect to others who felt #alone and #scared? I am pretty sure adult-me would be different if I had not made myself do the things that I feared. I also am pretty sure that the fear of being trapped in that silent fear of others was enough to drive me to face other fears and go beyond the comfortable. I am grateful for that heaven-sent determination to do the hard things.

All this from reading a kid’s book for school…

Sign Here or Make Your Mark

The phrase “You need to sign here” may cause anxiety because it means monthly payments or a commitment of some sort, but for teens today...