• Helen Phifer

A Writer's Life

Being a writer can be a lonely job at times. It's the perfect career if you're a bit of an introvert. I know there are some days that I would rather hide behind my computer in my imaginary world wearing my favourite pyjamas than actually going out and facing the real world. I'm not a full time writer yet, so unfortunately there are also days I have to get dressed and go to work. I'll let you decide which is my favourite kind of day.

I've been putting off doing author talks well ever since my first book The Ghost House was published, The thought of public speaking filled me with so much fear it didn't bear thinking about and who would want to listen to me ramble on anyway? Then it happened, I got a phone call from a lovely lady who had read The Ghost House and was a friend of my friend. She wanted to know if I would do a talk to the club which she was going to take over as president. I agreed because the date was over a year in advance, I knew that hopefully she would either forget all about it or that I'd be able to come up with a plausible excuse not to go through with it.

Fast forward to a few weeks before the talk was scheduled and I got an email saying how much they were looking forward to hearing me speak. The panic set in, they hadn't forgot about me and I didn't really have any good enough excuses. I emailed back and said I was very nervous and they would have to forgive me. I pushed it to the back of my mind hoping that something would crop up, it didn't. So came the day of the talk, last minute as always my daughter asked me if I'd prepared for it. I hadn't and she told me off, which I needed. So I sat down and began to type up my talk, I then set about cutting and gluing bits of it onto index cards so that I wasn't reading from a sheet of paper. Two of my daughters were home and so they made me read it out to them, I think that was harder than doing the talk. It's so hard talking about yourself, especially in front of your children who think it's highly amusing.

When it was time to go the the venue which was in a very nice hotel, with a meal served first. I drove there and sat outside in the car, wondering if it was too late to cancel. I've read so many times that you should face your fears and to do something what scares you. So I forced myself to get out of the car, pulled up my big, girl panties and tried not to hyperventilate too much on the side of the road. I walked into the foyer to be greeted by one of the lovely ladies who was waiting for me. She led me over to the table I was to be seated at for the meal and introduced me to everyone. For the next hour I managed to eat the sandwich that had been very kindly ordered for me without choking on it and chat.

Then it was time, the president smiled at me and began a lovely introduction. I took a deep breath, stood up myself and began my talk. Somehow I managed to smile, laugh and intrigue my very, lovely and kind audience. I told them how from the spark of an idea whilst walking the dog one day how I ended up on an eight year journey to become a published author with my debut book The Ghost House.

I finished with a lovely round of applause from my audience of who several came to chat to me afterwards. When one lady asked if I did public speaking often I laughed and told her definitely not. I signed a few books and left feeling as if I'd achieved a major milestone in my life. I'd managed to stand up in front of a room full of strangers and tell them about my writing, better yet what really amazed me was that I absoloutley loved it. To my surprise I'd enjoyed myself and had conquered some of my fear about public speaking. Which is just as well because I've been asked to do a talk at one of the local libraries next month.

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