Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What You Need to Wear to Be a Pro

Tomorrow is the big book launch, reading, Women in Publishing event, and I am suddenly extremely nervous. It's the first time I'm speaking as the author, rather than hiding behind an author as the publisher. So of course I am now obsessing over WHAT TO WEAR.

My Muse isn't helping. "Wear what you want," she says.

"I don't know what I want to wear."

"Then just wear jeans and a nice sweater."

"But are jeans fancy enough?" I hold up my favorite pair of faded blue-jeans.

"Those aren't. The hem's frayed. Wear this." She pulls a polka dot dress from the closet and holds it out to me.


"Yes. It looks smashing on you."

"But a dress might be too fancy."

"I thought you wanted to be fancy."

"No. I mean yes. I mean... maybe." I sit on my bed and stare at my closet.

My Muse raises an eyebrow as she watches me. "What's the problem?"

"Nothing. I'm just nervous. I want to give the right impression, like I know what I'm doing, but not too stuffy or uptight. I want to look pretty, but not too pretty. I don't want to be thought of as that cute girl who wrote a cute little handbook. I want to be taken seriously, but not too seriously. You know... I just want to be..."


"Respected. But not in an uptight, literary way. I want people to feel that they can talk to me and I will be able to answer their questions correctly and really help them. But I don't want to look school-marmy or overly polished. Just mellow, laid back, down to earth, but not too granola. Does that make sense?"

"Don't wear tie dye and stay away from suits. Got it." She sits beside me and pats my hand. "Remember last time we were upset because no one cared that we were the publishers? Everyone was focused on Laura. I felt like a child sent to bed too early because the grown ups wanted to have a party."

"Now what do you feel like?" I ask.

She smiles. "Like I've just stepped into a spot light and if I don't learn to tap-dance really fast the trap door will open beneath me and I'll fall to my death."

I sigh. "Exactly."

My Muse stands and pats her head of unruly snakes. "I have to go get my hair done. I'll help you figure out what to wear tomorrow."

As she vanishes another terrifying thought pops into my brain: my hair! What am I going to do with my hair?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Any time we step into the spot-light we feel like we have to be clever to earn our keep. Why can't we just enjoy the moment of renown, recognizing that our hard work and creativity are what got us there?

I wrote What You Need to Know to Be a Pro to be of help to others. And I'm not the only one there; four other women are sharing the event with me. I need to let go of my own ego driven nerves and focus on the community spirit of the work.

Yeah, sure. Easier said than done. But not impossible.

I stand and reach into my closet, pulling out the polka dot dress once more. Spanish Gypsies say polka dots are good luck.

"This might work."

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