Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Introducing...

Me.

I was supposed to interview someone else, someone way more fabulous, but I'm afraid you're stuck with me today. My name is Pamela Skjolsvik and I write.  I'm not on the NYT's best seller list.  In fact, I have a fairly slim publishing history.  And you know what?  That's okay.  I keep putting myself out there because a.) I'm very persistent and b.) my sensitive, thin writer skin is now becoming thick and calloused.  In fact, I laugh at the cool calculated form letters of rejection.  Ha!

So anyway, in the past month, most of my writer brain cells have been focused on this blog.  I discovered through the A-Z challenge that I kind of like this blogging thing.  It's casual.  There's no pressure.  I don't feel like I have to be smart or profound or have a terrific narrative arc.  I just get to be me and connect with people. And sometimes what ends up on this blog means something to someone and let me tell you, that is a WONDERFUL feeling.  

But in the past week, things have changed.  I sent out my book proposal to an agent and she was kind enough to read it and give me some pointers about how to make it better.  So, now I've got to write like my life depends on it and what am I doing?  I'm writing this blog.  Why?  

Because I'm afraid.

I'm afraid that I'm not good enough.

Or smart enough.

And that people won't like me.

FEAR.  It is a total and complete bitch.  Up until the age of 38, my fear of social situations and meeting new people prevented me from actually living my life.  It took going to grad school in a mid-life crisis moment of "what am I going to be when I grow up?" to finally start living.  But I had to look at death to do that.  Funny how that worked.  Oh, and I also went to therapy after that whole death trip.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is wonderful if you're afraid to walk into a party and not be a wine swilling dip clinger.  (and yes, wine swilling dip clinger just popped out of my head and I ran with it.  Say it three times fast!)

So, next week, I'll have my regularly scheduled writer on here.  I will have my proposal done or pretty close to being done.  And I will kick fear's ass to the curb.  Kinda like Ripley in the power loader.


So, what are you doing this week?  Going to the beach?  Reading a good book?  Fighting aliens in your mind?   Tell me.




32 comments:

  1. Pamela I couldn't agree more, therapy is a big help dealing with death. Especially when it's complicated like my situation [sudden death] young death. I'm surprised more people don't go...or is it that people just don't talk about it? I've often wondered.

    Death can be a great motivator to get ones shit together, it give people a fresh look some new perspective, God knows it did for me.

    It was either that or I was just going to crawl into a big hole and die myself and somehow that just wasn't my style.

    Now as for the weekend... the beach sounds lovely, but this weekend I'm laying low here at home.. Next week I'm going to New York for a whole week; now that will be fun! you have a good one.

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    1. Hey Jennifer!
      Thanks for making it over to my blog. Well, here's the deal, I'm 41 and I've only lost a grandmother thus far in my life. My therapy was purely about combating social anxiety. But, having interviewed two grief counselors for my thesis, I couldn't agree with you more about therapy.
      I interviewed this woman pretty early on in my exploration and she scared the heck out of me. Not because she was scary, but because she talked about the normalcy of death. And I wasn't ready to hear it. I'll never forget her saying, (And I'm paraphrasing here... "Everyone dies. Young people, old people, young mothers, old fathers, everyone. There's no guarantee that we're going to live into our 90's." I literally wanted to throw a temper tantrum in her office while screaming NOOOOOOOO at the injustice of it all.
      OOOOOH! New York. I'm jealous. I love NY. I hope you get to do some fun stuff like see a play, a baseball game or enjoy a fabulous meal!

      Thanks for commenting!

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  2. That's so great that you got some pointers from the agent and are now working hard on your MS. I have the same fears and yelp, drink a bit too much wine when I find myself at a party. However, that has been awhile. I never could find a decent therapist and so never stuck with therapy, but I also think my social anxiety has a physical cause. I've just started thinking this because for a few months now I've been taking a beta blocker, Propranolol, which is also used for social anxiety. You would not believe how much more relaxed and comfortable I am now with people. Plus, it doesn't make me high. At all.

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    1. It's funny, but CBT is really hard to find, so I guess I'm lucky that I found a study to finally tackle this issue. The study was done by SMU & Harvard. There were six of us in the beginning of the study and by the end, only two of us remained. We had to do weekly "exposures." It started out with giving a speech, then giving a speech on a controversial subject, then giving a speech to two strangers, and moved on to going out in public and approaching strangers. By the end of therapy, I had to approach a table of men at a bar and ask if I could read them three pages of my writing.
      I'm definitely not a social butterfly, but I am about 80-90% better than I was before.

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  3. I try and accept fear as a normal and sometimes even useful thing, cause it's never going to go away. Just past the fear lies the freedom, as somebody smarter than me said (see, I do the "not enough" thing too). And you have very pretty blue eyes. That is all.

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    1. Well, thank you Laura. My motto is the only way to face a fear is to go through it. Somebody famous said that but I don't know who. In my therapy, we were told, if something brings on the fear response, we were to approach it because that was the only way to bring the fear down. If we kept avoiding, the fear gained more and more control over our behavior. So, yeah, I'm going to do this dang rewrite even though it scares me. Because if my best isn't good enough for this particular person, it might be spectacular for the next.

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  4. Pamela, your reaction is -- gosh, how can I put this? -- familiar? Warranted? Appropriate? I think it makes for a better writer when the fear is there. It's a fine line! Too little and one becomes insufferable and too much and paralysis sets in.

    I have a feeling you're in the sweet zone, girl. Go forth. You're right on track.

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    1. Dang, I hope so. I'm floundering a bit because the agent asked me, "what's at stake?" Where would I be if I hadn't explored death?

      Definitely not here.

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  5. You may be afraid, but your pretty darn brave too. Going after what you want, even though it's scary, very brave. Keep writing and keep your head up. :)

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    1. Thanks Jessica. I've never felt very brave and I think it's because walking into a party or a conference room felt the same as walking into a death row prison and talking to a man on the day of his death. If fear is the norm for me, then everything I do is an act of bravery. That probably doesn't make sense. Maybe it does. I don't know. I'm tired.

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  6. Ripley is a great strength persona. Mine is Sarah Connor, especially as portrayed in T2. I kid you not. :) What am I doing this week? Trying to cage a lost homing pigeon, preparing to move our rig for a week vacation, writing, blogging and enjoying Life. Now go kick some butt, girlfriend!

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    1. Yeah, Sarah Connor was quite the bad ass in T2. I wish I had her arms:) I think I associate with Ripley because she went back for the cat. I'd go back for the cat too.

      You have homing pigeons?

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  7. Oh yeah, I love "wine swilling dip clinger." May I use that?

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  8. Great post. Probably a lot of what I'll be doing in the next week is staring at the phone not calling interview subjects. I have terrible phone anxiety and will keep picking up the phone and putting it down repeatedly and then get distracted by the internet, and then half the day's gone by and my sources are still sitting on the other end of the phone without ever having heard my voice!

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    1. I find that really interesting because aren't you a member of Toastmasters? I don't have a problem with the phone, but getting up in front of a group of people and reading or speaking used to terrify me.
      I'm not a psychologist, but my advice is to pick up the phone as early and as often as possible to get over it. Ride out the fear. Take notes. Where does your mind go when you are going to call someone? Call someone. See what happens.
      At graduation, we had to read and I thought I was going to pass out. I even tried to get out of it, but Patsy wouldn't let me. I'm glad she made me do it.

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    2. Public speaking makes me nervous but Toastmasters has definitely, without question, lessened that fear.

      What scares me about the phone is that I might not be able to answer a question properly or I might be misunderstood. Maybe there's something about seeing people's faces that's more comfortable. I just fear I'll end up babbling in a phone interview. Maybe it's also the note-taking that messes me up.

      I usually end up procrastinating until I get panicky that I won't get the work done, and that's when I'm cool with the phone.

      Well, it's 11:50 a.m. and I still haven't called a single source...

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    3. Record your phone calls so you won't have to take notes. I'm working on my overview right now. Yay!

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  9. You ARE good enough. You ARE smart enough and doggone it people like you! Fear is a tough one. It is so debilitating but most of the time it's blow out of proportion in that crazy space between our ears. Keep on keepin'

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    1. Thank you Lori. I need you to go to the gym with me!!!

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  11. Pamela, we all have that fear that we're not good enough. But what I've learned is to hold on to the positive even if I don't reach my goal. So, you got three requests for proposals. That is something to celebrate, my friend. That says you are good enough and smart enough even if those proposals don't land you an agent. You got requests! Many people don't. You are good enough and smart enough to beat the odds. :)

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    1. Yeah, but the pressure is on. Did you ever watch the Brady Bunch? If so, do you remember when Cindy went on the show and when the camera turned on, she totally froze? I feel a little like that. But, I am working. Well, and responding to you and others on my blog:) I'm multi-tasking!

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    2. I watched The Brady Bunch religiously. But I feel your nervousness. I just got manuscript requests from two agents, and I'm as nervous as a canary at a cat fight. But I still hold on to the fact that I was good enough and smart enough to get those requests. But this is my second time around in queryland, so that might make a difference. :)

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    3. Well, I keep my toes crossed for you. My fingers are crossed for myself. It makes typing sort of difficult:)

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  12. I can relate to your situation. I'm trying to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life too. Besides writing. That's solid. Good luck achieving your goal.

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  13. I'm WAYYYYYY behind in blogs....you go girl!!!

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    1. I'm way behind on everything! Thanks, I'm working hard and feeling super productive.

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  14. Fear is a biggie but having an agent ROCKS! You go!

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    1. Well, I don't have an agent. Yet. I think if I write the "Great American Book Proposal" that may change. I hope so.

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Comments are welcome and appreciated!