“Do you think they’ll laugh at me if I take my Sailor Moon backpack?” I asked my husband the night before my first “book chat” at a local high school. I was so nervous, more nervous than I had been in such a long time. I didn’t know what it would be like. I wasn’t sure If the students would think I was a total weirdo. I was homeschooled. I can count the times I’ve walked into an actual High School on one hand. It’s a little silly, but I was terrified I’d be reenacting that iconic scene from Mean Girls and eating lunch hidden in a bathroom stall, with tears streaming down my face.
I loaded up my backpack (Which I, of course, ended up taking.) with the old proof copies of “Confidence” in different print sizes and ugly temporary covers. I had to take it, not only to embrace my kooky self and all that good stuff but also because it’s literally the only bag I have that will fit all those books…which was also, you know pretty important.
I told you I was nervous, didn’t I? Well, the truth is, nervous is an understatement. The night before the book chat, a day that ended up being so wonderful, I sat on the very same couch I’m writing from right now, hyperventilating, in the worst panic attack, I’d had in months. I went to sleep and had a series of terrible stress dreams. In one I showed up to the school in pajamas. In other I was late.
And then after all of the worrying, I had an amazing day. A seriously amazing day. Matt was kind enough to drop me off, I checked in at the front desk, and was guided over to the Media Center. Media Centers are a fancy name for libraries? Did you know that? I didn’t know that! Anyways, we chatted until it was time to hop over to the first talk, which was in the 9th-grade media center.
Before it was time to start, I had just enough time to frantically jump up and down, wave and make silly faces in the window of my friend Lacy’s classroom. She’s one of those friends who I feel like I don’t get to see enough of, but every time I do, I just can’t help but light up. “She’s here!” she shouted, and to my surprise, a few of her students joined in with her excited cheers. She smiled, grabbing the door for me, and I sat in for a moment until the bell rang. This was the first time I had ever been in a proper Biology classroom.
Fun fact! As a youth, I dissected a cow heart in a friends mom’s basement. #homeschooledlife
We went over to the book chat together after the bell rang, which was nice. Things like this are always a little easier with a friend around. In total, I think it was around five students, myself, and some of the staff and we just talked. I showed them the proof copies of the book, talked about the process of creating it, and answered their questions. Sometimes it felt structured, and others it was candid and goofy. A lot of them were writers and artists which I thought was so amazing. One was even named Paige! And as the day went on and the groups of students changed from 5 to 10, to a full room of people the welcoming feeling of the first group carried on.
My last chat was actually after school during “Anime Club.” Upon entering the room, one of the students greeted me with a friendly smile and said, “I haven’t seen you here before! Are you a new member?” Bless her soul right? ❤
Fun fact! I was actually in an Anime Club in high school. It was just around eleven years ago. :p
After that, a girl named Isabella who had super fun blue hair told me she “could read Confidence every day” and another student said It was the first time she’d ever read a whole book in a single day! Whaaaaat?
I was so grateful. I think those words are honestly still sinking in. I wrote this book for them. And as someone who was a member of an Anime Club myself, it was really special to be back in that sort of setting as a guest. Typing that out, I still can’t believe it happened. I can’t imagine how my fifteen-year-old self would react if I could travel back in time and tell her. Life Goals have been met. Though, I can say with certainty my anime club had nothing on theirs! Not only was this club four times the size, but they were all so sweet and creative. It blew my mind – artists, writers, and even a few folks who made comics. Two of them even doodled pictures of me in the back of the classroom! I can’t even tell you how excited I was to see this.
^ See what I mean?! I’ve always wanted to be an anime character. Thanks for making that dream a reality! (and let me know 1. If you’re reading this and 2. If you have a tumblr/art blog/ect. that I can link to)
I really hope I helped inspire them to keep creating, and they share their stories with the world, I know first hand it can be so terrifying. Our stories are close to our hearts, really, they’re a part of us. It’s one of the most vulnerable things you can do, but it’s worth it. And you don’t have to do it alone. Publishing my book, I had the support of Matt, my editor Jen <3, and friends and family cheering me on. And without them, I’m not sure… I hate to think of this reality, but honestly, it could very well still be sitting on my computer, unedited, unread and collecting dust.
If I hadn’t published Confidence. I never would have gone to that book chat. I wouldn’t have had anything to chat about.
I’m not saying you can’t do it alone. But I think the journey is better with some traveling companions. After all, Frodo would never have made it to Mordor without Sam. I’ve let anxiety stop me from a lot of things. I’m really thankful that with the support of my friends and husband, I didn’t let it stop me this time. I’m so glad I met everyone I did, I just wish I had more time to talk to each and every one of them.
Oh, also! I want to share one of my favorite quotes from the day, with absolutely no context, but still, it’s one of those things I want to make sure I don’t forget. :p
I think that just really sums up who I am is terms of public speaking. Joking aside, I want to do this again! If you work at a school, library, run a book club, or are looking for speakers at a convention and you’d like to get in contact send an email over to email@example.com, and I’ll be in touch soon. ❤
Till next time,
P.S If anyone was wondering, everyone loved my backpack. MOON PRIDEEEEEEE!