Thursday, December 15, 2011

Opening Doors

I spent some time a few weeks ago in the Portland International Airport - or PDX, as we world-savvy travelers refer to it. (Okay, I admit it. I just learned that abbreviation.)

Through a series of miscalculations (mostly having to do with the fact that I live in Los Angeles and am used to allowing an extra hour or two for traffic snarls), I ended up at the airport three and a half hours before my flight home was due to depart.

Oh, great, I thought as I staggered out of the security line and found a bench where I could put my shoes back on, slip my belt back through the loops on my jeans and cram my laptop back into its slot in my briefcase. Now I get to spend the afternoon in a molded plastic chair, listening to some self-important businessman bark into his cell phone while the person on the other side of me coughs on my shoulder.

Boy, was I wrong.

Ten minutes later, I was settled into a window-side table in the pleasantly cavernous main lobby of the terminal, sipping a steaming Starbucks triple latte as my laptop gorged on free WiFi. Nearby, a lithe young woman tinkled away on a grand piano, accompanying herself as she sang in what turned out to be a lovely voice. (She was overly partial to those soul-crushing Adele songs, but still – the girl could sing.)

As I sat back under my indoor cafe umbrella and watched the late afternoon sky outside begin to color, it occurred to me that I’d been on vacations that were less relaxing than my current circumstances.

I began to unclench, to catch my breath, to reflect.

That morning, I had done my first television talk show appearance to promote my book – on the local morning program “AM Northwest.” I had flown up the night before in order to be at the studio at 8:30 am (another appointment for which I was ridiculously early thanks to my LA conditioning).

Overall, it had been a lovely experience and well worth the trip. The folks at the station were warm and gracious, as were the show’s hosts. In the green room, I made friends with other guests: a woman who specializes in taking photographs of pets, a local dentist, and a journalist/author who just released a book on the infamous D.B. Cooper. We shared coffee in paper cups and conversation in varying degrees of nervousness.

Before airtime, the producer walked me through the studio to the set, showing me where I would sit and explaining how it would all work. A few minutes before my segment, one of the assistants instructed me to run the mic cord up under my sweater so she could clip it on the neckline.

Before I knew it, my portion of the show was over and I found myself back in the green room. There on the monitor was my new friend the pet photographer, sitting in the chair I’d just vacated and critiquing someone’s photo of an oddly washed-out Labrador. (Turns out you should never use your flash when taking pet shots. Who knew?)

The day’s TV experience – my first – was over. I had managed to talk with logical progression, to make the people in the booth laugh (the hosts are pretty much required to laugh, but the people in the booth – that’s authentic), to get my message points about my book across and – most importantly – not to throw up on myself on live television.

Mission accomplished.

The CHICKtionary is my first published book and so this is my first marketing push for my own work. In my previous life, I worked in public relations and marketing, but when the product is yourself, it’s a whole different experience.

For most of this year, I have been cloistered in my office at home, writing. Writing writing writing. And editing. And more editing. (You’ll notice that the word “housekeeping” is conspicuously absent from this paragraph. The less said about that the better.)

The transition from the solitude of the creative process to the “Hey, look at me!” blare of the promotions process has been an interesting one so far. I find that, although I consider myself an extrovert, I can only be all the way out of my shell for short bursts of time before I need to retract and recharge for the next round. I first became aware of this when I was doing standup comedy, but I didn’t realize it would be the case for less-extreme types of exposure as well.

From the creation of this book through its current launch, this has been a year of unintentional learning about myself – a process which I expect to continue. I never thought of myself as a person who would be spending time in a green room or smiling into the dark, round eye of a television camera. It’s rare for me to travel without my family, but in the last two weeks, I've made solo trips to Northern California, Phoenix and New York City - and I've got another one this weekend to Indianapolis (see below). I find myself handing postcards about my book to people I barely know, like salesclerks and cab drivers.

None of these things “feel” like me, yet here I am.

And there I was in the Portland airport, watching the sun sink over the Alaska Airlines plane I would soon board for the trip home, thinking about the many doors I had passed through – and would be passing through in the coming weeks – all of which were opened by those months spent alone in my office…writing, writing, writing.

The Bob & Tom Show

I'm very excited to announce that on Monday, December 19 I will be live in studio in Indianapolis with Bob & Tom on their nationally syndicated radio show which runs 6am - 10am EST. (Here's how to find your local station.)

It's going to be fun and funny and wicked cool and I'm already freaking out about what to wear. (Yes, I know it's radio, but you can hear plaid.)

I hope you can tune in!


Harley May said...

This is a great post, Anna.

Personally, I get overwhelmed with exposure and people paying attention to me. My reclusive introvert/writer starts to show. I mean, I can be pleasant and personable, but it doesn't take long for me to get twitchy.

You seem to have handled all of this with a lot of grace and non-twitching.

Ann Imig said...

I like when you take off your mustache and reveal your contemplative side.


I can't help but think of all the doors you've gone through to get to the book to. Each blog post, each submission...

So proud of you and happy for you, and very excited to see where you go next.


Liz @ ewmcguire said...

Looking forward to watching your success continue through many more doors (and also watching you NOT throw up on television, you rock star, you!)

Alexandra said...

What's it called...when I love people's unfurling self awareness.

I don't know..but there is something so interesting to me, when I hear and read about self discovery.

I think it's the falling star in the sky moment that you get to witness...when someone lets their public facade down...and says "this is what I see myself as."

Anyway, I find it something that I can get lost in...reading about the evolution and new birth of a person.

I dug this essay, Ann.

And, for me...I have never seen myself as an extrovert...until I came online.

What the heck is that about?

So happy that I know've brought a lot to my life.

Congratulations, and thank you, for so very much this year.

I'm excited to hear you live on the 19th!!

meleah rebeccah said...

and you are awesomeness.

Laura BurgandyIce said...

Ahhh... I love your experience at PDX!! That is exactly Portland = Starbucks, live music & a view. It sounds like the moment came at a great time. Too funny how you're early to everything. I read your post at Coloquium, although I follow your blog, too... and I want your book!! :-) Thx

HermanTurnip said...

Everything that you've detailed here sounds exciting to me. But then again I've always worshipped authors, and really enjoy meeting them in person. I guess that's why I write stories, in hopes that perhaps someday I'll come up with something worth publishing!

Consciously Sedated/Rachel Paul said...

I watched one of your interviews on youtube, not sure which one, but you seem to be a natural.

I'm so happy you are getting to experience this; you're living the dream of most bloggers.


Kate Coveny Hood said...

Just got my copy in the mail! Actually I should say "copies" since I accidentally ordered two (who does that?!) One will be now wrapped as a Christmas gift for a neighborhood friend. I just love a happy ending...

This was a very interesting read - to get into your head, so to speak. I think we often surprise ourselves by having extrovert/introvert sides that we never before had a reason to tap into.

Hope your guest appearances bring you to the DC area :)