This year I've ramped up my efforts in promoting that thing I laughingly call my writing career. That is a bit of a problem. Part of having a writing career is self promotion. In fact, self promotion is probably about 85 percent of the game. For me, self promotion has never been easy. It's about as natural to me as flying is to a penguin. We have the wings, they're just not very useful.
I remember when Chicago's Most Wanted came out. I was working in circulation at the Park Ridge Library and when my book...the book I'd put so much effort into producing, was checked out by patrons, coworkers pointed out the connection between it and me more than I did. I was thrilled someone was reading it, proud of what I had produced, but I just sort of shrank away from making my relation to it known. You can't do that when you're trying to make a career out of writing.
On this blog and now my website, I bill myself as "the greatest writer that has ever lived" oh sure, partly cause it just may very well be true. But mainly because of the sheer absurdity of the statement. I like to have fun. I love to laugh. Often the more stressful a situation the more my urge to spout a highly inappropriate observation or just plain laughter (and actually, sometimes I'm told my "inappropriate" comment was far from it). I can't help it. It's a condition. Like my tendency to break into song. I've had people comment, "Well you're in a good mood." To which I reply, "Not necessarily. It could be either."
The fact is that, re: my status as "the greatest writer that ever lived", I've never been someone who bought my own publicity. Or anyone's publicity about me. If the celestial ringmaster came down from up high and told me point blank that, indeed, I was the greatest writer that ever lived, I'd still question its judgement (or its sanity).
I've spent most of my youth trying to avoid attention and now I'm in a position where I must court it. I have to convince people that I have something to offer and the problem is that I'm not completely convinced of it myself.
Some people have no difficulty selling themselves, even when they have precious little to sell. Of course, confidence, misplaced or not, is a key element in that talent. It helps project the sincerity needed to close the sale. Confidence has always alluded me for a number of reasons of which I won't bore you with now (though you can read it in my autobiography, What the Hell Just Happened! The Laura Enright Story to be published in the near future or far distant past, depending on how fast we get the whole "time travel" thing going).
Then you have the other side of the coin. People with incredible talent who fly way below the radar because, whether out of shyness or because they simply don't desire it, they don't make their presence known. Kind of like when Obi Wan Kenobi gave up his Jedi past and became a simple hermit in the hills.
The point is that I'm not sure where I belong really. Am I an extrovert by necessity not by design? Or do I really like to be worshipped and adored? I mean, if that worship and adoration were to ever occur.
I suspect I'm somewhere in the middle when it comes to the goods. I have more than I think, and less than I'd like to have.
Or perhaps it goes back to that penguin. The penguin looks up into the sky and sees a graceful eagle, swooping and soaring. Then he flaps his wings wildly but no amount of wing-flapping will lift him off the ground. So, he waddles along on the ice.
Until he reaches the ocean. Then, he slips in and moves just as gracefully in the water as the eagle did in the sky. He can, in some respects fly, he just needs to be in the right element.
Just like the rest of us.