A few weeks ago I was interviewed for The Writing Show. I have to say that I am not normally very nervous speaking in front of a crowd, though I can be a fairly quiet and even shy person at times. However, I’m confident in who I am and what I do. Even when I was a kid and participated in things like school plays, the butterflies were small if at all present. Events that I’ve attended to promote my book have not fazed me in the least.
But I was nervous about this interview. No amount of preparation beforehand calmed my nerves–not my knowledge of the subject matter, not my love of writing, nothing. When it began, I felt as though my mind was just an empty space, as if I had not heard of any of the authors mentioned in the interview, never read any of their works, in fact as if I had not read a book or wrote a sentence in my entire life. I could feel myself rambling on, repeating words and phrases over and over again. As the interview progressed I relaxed somewhat, but I would compare the level of relaxation to moving a mound of dirt from a mountain.
In hindsight I would say that I second guessed myself because it was my first on-air interview. I wasn’t sure that my familiarity with the topic would be enough. I’ve read a number of works by the authors discussed, including the ones that some of the questions stemmed from, and, of course, I’m familiar with my own work and beliefs about writing. But rather than just letting myself be, I put so much emphasis on these thoughts: ‘My first on-air interview! Oh my God, what if I sound like a complete moron? Who am I to tell anyone how to write stories? What if I sound like some crazy, arrogant person that doesn’t even know what she’s talking about?’
I don’t know of any writer that has not felt at some point or another that their writing was inadequate–whether it’s the first sentence of a new story or the last line of a novel. Not to toot my own horn, but I think my collection of short stories is pretty good. I like it, and others seem to like it as well. That doesn’t make me a master writer but I do have things to say, ideas to explore, a vivid imagination, and I do my best—whatever that happens to be at a particular time—to make sure that I use any writing talent I have and skills I’ve learned to get the work onto paper.
After the interview I asked Paula how she thought it went. She said it went well and to not worry if I think I sound terrible because most people think they sound bad when they hear themselves. As far as I know, this is true—I haven’t met anyone that thinks they sound good when they hear themselves or even see themselves on recordings. Sometimes that feeling is warranted, but most often it’s not.
Besides being nervous, I did have fun and in hindsight I’d say it went better than what I feared it could be. Maybe I did sound awkward at times, and while I didn’t get across everything I wanted to or—in my estimation—didn’t illuminate as much as I would have liked to the particulars of writing short stories, the essays and methods of the authors mentioned, or even my own work, I feel the interview shed some light on the various topics and presented a little piece of who I am and why I write. Enough to at least interest some that are dedicated to writing, reading, learning, etc.,. There’s room for improvement, I think, but I’m pretty sure that the lessons I’ve learned from this first interview will help me in the future. I know I won’t be as nervous about any on-air interview that I may have in the future.
I’ve also re-learned a lesson, re-solidified a belief, that the best thing is to just be. Trust in yourself and your given abilities, and don’t worry so much about external factors. We’re only human, we make big as well as small mistakes and don’t always know what’s ahead, but in just doing things to the best of our abilities, being the best of ourselves that we can be from moment to moment, and then letting go of expectations we can achieve more than if we worry ourselves to exhaustion.
Nancy O. Greene