Did you know that the original title of Pride and Prejudice was
No, this post is not about P&P. I just thought that was an interesting bit of trivia.
This post is about first impressions. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. A lot of stuff is happening in my life to which first impressions are… well, relevant.
You only have one chance to make a first impression on someone and hopefully, it is a good one.
Did you ever notice that when you are not yet discovered as an author, you go through multiple revisions and editings and sometimes even several novels, whereas it seems that once you are working with an agent or editor, they get the first draft or one of the early ones and not one of the one you work so hard to perfect first? At least, that’s how it seems to me from what I’ve seen from various published authors.
Part of this is because you grow as a writer, constantly getting better. But I also believe that when you are querying, part of what you are doing is proving yourself. That is why editing is so important. That is why writing a good query letter is so important. You have one chance to make a good first impression.
Same goes for a lot of other stuff. Take a look at your Twitter profile. What does the combination of your picture and bio say about you? What about your Twitter handle?
“Writer. Reader. Tolkienite. Mistborn. Whatever you call a Les-Mis fangirl. Dragon-owner. I create worlds with ink and paper and 26 letters.”
That’s my Twitter bio. My pic is currently a picture of me with a handful of lilies. My handle is @SherwoodWriter because I used to go by “Robyn Hoode”. What does this say about me? I’m a writer and a reader and a fangirl. I like dragons. I’m imaginative. I have good taste in literature. All this, plus my tweets, I hope, conveys that I’m a friendly, sweet girl, generally speaking.
But let’s get offline for a minute and talk about life off a computer screen.
Outside of the internet, I’m a terrified, shy thing. I obsess more over what people think (I obsess over that online, too, but hiding behind a computer screen and halfway across the country/world helps me open up). But once I know you’re friendly and I’m comfortable talking to you, I’ll tell you just about anything. That tends to lead to my downfall…
Why do I do that? Why do I always ending up saying something weird and causing an awkward silence? Eventually, at some point, it happens. How does it happen? And how do I make it stop?
I have a thing with the word “weird”. When someone (*coughsiblingcough*) says I’m weird, I smile and say thanks. When a good friend (online) says the same thing, I try to shake it off and smile like before. It’s been many years since someone offline has said I’m weird. Maybe that’s because we’ve all matured and one does not simply call a 23 year old lady weird to her face. Or that all the people who called me weird in the first place are people I long lost contact with. Or maybe I’ve grown out of publicly weird and I’m just still scared of it. Who even knows? I just know that I don’t want anyone to perceive me as weird (if you do, just don’t use the word “weird”; I’ll take eccentric or strange, but not weird). I don’t want to be known as naive either, now that I think about it. I think the best of everyone (unless you give me a bad feeling– sorry to all those people who are perfectly nice but give me a bad feeling. I’ll either eventually get used to you or avoid you at all costs).
I am some weird cross between Mr. Darcy and Jane Bennet. I am exceedingly socially awkward but all the world is good in my eyes.
And here we are, back to First Impressions.
Enough beating around the bush. My family is looking for a new church. As a former homeschooler and current “stay-at-home-writer”, church is about the only regular, offline interaction with non-relatives I have. (I know plenty of homeschoolers and writers who have had much more out-of-the-house interaction than I have– I just haven’t.)
I think that, to an extent, we all want to be accepted and fit in. We don’t want to be alone. We all want friends. No one wants to be the oddball. No one wants to feel left out. And I also know that if you want to be friends, you have to make an effort at it. Sometimes, it actually feels like an effort.
So, finding a new church and meeting new people is a big deal to me. The church we’re currently looking at has a young adults class and therefore
GASP! young adults.
I have a chance to make friends. I also have a chance to eliminate of the facet of my personality that isn’t social, that’s scared of mingling, that hides in corners, hoping that someone will start a conversation. Not really the wallflower, but… yeah. Wallflower is a pretty accurate description.
Excuse me while I go bang my head up against a wall because of that realization…
Why is this hard? I want to be an touring author one day. I want to do book signings and readings and panels. And here I am, terrified of being the center of attention and terrified of going up to someone and saying “hi”.
John Green says that writing is a profession for introverts because we can tell you a story without making eye-contact.
Theorectically speaking, I should be able to do this. I should be able to be confident and act like I am anything but an introvert. That whole “fake it until you make it” thing.
I just realized that I have spent this whole post implying that introverts can’t/don’t have friends. Whoops. Sorry. That’s not what I meant at all.
SIGH. And now I’m rambling. I need to think about this some more. I don’t know what I’m going to do, yet. I’d like to be confident. And I am terrified of it.
I might need someone to come and give me a little shove out of my comfort zone…
Pride and Prejudice gives me hope. First impressions, while important, aren’t everything. So, even if I screw everything up with the first impression at this new church, there’s still hope and still a chance to change what was originally thought of me. (And I can’t mess it up as bad as Mr. Darcy did with his at that first dance [I’m just not that conceited], so I’m probably going to be fine.)
You guys deserve cookies for reading this. Especially since my blogging has gotten sporadic of late. I don’t agree with the first part of this quote. Writing does not have to be a lone endeavor. Most of my best friends are writers. And even through all this talk of making new friends, the online writer friends I have are still some of the most awesome people on the planet.