The last time our youth minister brought the morning message at my church, he preached about the rise and fall of King Saul as told in 1 Samuel. The part that stood out to me was a small story in Chapter 10.
Saul was sent to find some lost donkeys. On the way, he met the Prophet Samuel who told him he had been chosen by God to be the king of Israel. Saul was reluctant, protesting that he was just a small town boy – not really king material. Later, when Samuel was ready to crown him publicly, Saul was found hiding in the luggage. I guess it was hard for him to move out of his comfort zone and onto center stage.
Not many of us are divinely anointed to rule a nation, but each of us is sometimes called out of our comfort zone. I’ve been
out of my comfort zone a lot lately, especially the last couple of weeks. I’m basically a quiet, private person, which may sound strange coming someone who writes extensively about her private life. Still, it’s one thing to sit alone at a keyboard and another to stand in front of a group and talk about yourself. That’s what I did Saturday at my first official book signing.
It’s not as if I haven’t been in front of people before. For sixteen years, I worked for a design and manufacturing company. I sometimes gave product demonstrations and sales seminars at trade shows and sales meetings. However, selling yourself and your own work is a completely different experience. On the other hand, successful writers are known, not as best-writing authors, but as best-selling authors, so you move out of your comfort zone and into the spotlight.
The planning stages for the signing were easy – designing a flyer, ordering business cards, planning what to serve. Then, it became a little more difficult. I asked people to put up my flyers, and I talked with people face-to-face about my writing. I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into and if there was any way out.
It reminded me of an experience at camp a couple of summers ago. We took the kids swimming every day, and they loved
it when the counselors went in with them, especially if we went off the zip line into the pond. I avoided it the first day by going down the big slide, but the second day, my girls yelled at me from the top of the zip line ladder, and there was no escape. I had watched others take the walk of shame back down the ladder when their courage failed, so I tried not think about it too much and just put one foot in front of the other. When I reached the top, the attendant held out the grab bar. I took it, made a wise remark, and stepped off the platform. I screamed all the way down, but I survived.
As Saturday approached, I used the same tactic. I took one step at a time, trying not to think too much ahead. With the bad weather, I thought about cancelling, but I had publicized pretty widely. Besides, I had lots of cookies.
The event was in the Meadows Room at the local library, and as we set up Friday afternoon, I felt an odd sense of calm. Everything was falling into place, and I thought, I can do this. Saturday morning, I was excited but peaceful. I visited with friends, and when the time came for me to talk about and read from my book, I did what I had come to do. I don’t know how I’ll feel next time, but at least for this first signing, I didn’t even look for a pile of luggage.