A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend of mine who recommended--nay, strongly urged--me to attend a local writers' event. We were talking about my book, and she was of the opinion that I really needed to get myself over there to help boost sales. I told her I'd think about it.
And I did. I even found myself leaning toward following her advice. I'd meet some other writers, fangirl over one I adore, and get some PR for my books. I even joked with Hubs that my gift to him would be that he didn't have to go with me. (He'd be totally bored at something like that.)
Then I remembered an important point.
I panic in crowds.
Oh, I'm not agoraphobic level. And it doesn't happen all the time - which is kinda worse when you think about it. I never know what's going to set me off. So I could go down and wander through a writing event with no problems, or I could find myself down there and totally freak out.
When the Kid was younger, she'd go everywhere with me. And she knew how to help make it stop. Usually, I'd tell her to stand between me and the crowd (like in line at a grocery store), and she wouldn't look at me weird when I'd announce to her we had to leave a particular place for no apparent reason. She just knew. Now, she's on her own - as she should be - and I'm left without a buffer.
I have my own set of tools to keep myself on an even keel. I don't go places where I expect there to be a crowd, for one. I hit Walmart first thing in the morning. I don't venture out in public on holiday weekends. We don't go out anywhere. None of which is a hardship at all, since Hubs isn't inclined, and I like getting my errands done in the mornings. If I do find myself needing to go to town on a weekend, I suck it up, get my shopping done, and get home.
I think the first time it happened was back in 1999. A friend and I took the Kid down to Detroit to see The Rockettes Christmas show at the historic Fox Theater. We got there early, which was awesome. But then everyone else started to arrive, and the theater people wouldn't let anyone into the seats. So there we were at the front of the crowd, pressed up against the velvet ropes, with hundreds of strangers pressing up against the back of us. Oh holy shit. I feel panicky just remembering it. I kept it together and didn't run screaming from the building, but oh how I wanted to.
Last time I did that, let me tell ya.
I also don't go to the movies. That's got a whole additional set of issues - the surround sound freaks me out, too - so you couldn't drag me to a theater if your life depended on it. Concerts. No. Parties. No. Again, not an issue, since Hubs isn't a social animal and is just as happy staying home as I am. More so these days, since he stays home while I do the shopping and junk.
I can't imagine what life would be like if he wasn't the man he is. Wait, I can. Before Hubs, I dated men who didn't understand. That was hell, and a story for a whole other time.
Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is if you were hoping to someday meet me at RWA or RT or BEA or a book-signing or whatever, that ain't gonna happen. I really am the stereotype of the hermit writer. But, if you happen to catch me on the street somewhere, I'll be happy to talk to you. I'm good one on one. Just don't come at me in a crowd, or we might both get hurt. ;o)
How do you feel about crowds?
I sympathize. The older I get the less I like crowds. Back in the day, going to a rock concert & moshing was my idea of heaven (I'm a bit of a rock chick!) but not any more. Being vertically challenged, crowds make me feel like I'm drowning in people and I loathe & detest struggling to hear conversations when in busy & loud restaurants and the like. The most I can manage these days in attending the Knitting & Stitching show or Festival of Quilts, because most attendees are ladies and we tend to be more polite and a lot less pushy than mixed crowds. I can also get a bit claustrophobic, and I hate the freak out when that happens.ReplyDelete
Yeah, it does seem to be getting worse the older I get, Fran. I did some major rock concerts back in the day and had no problem. Ugh, I can't imagine being smaller in a crowd (even if I am shrinking). Oh man, and yes to the trying to hear a conversation in a crowd. See, those sound like nice, non-threatening functions where I'd still probably freak. It's not the venue or the behavior - it's the number of people.Delete
I don't care for crowds (says the person who goes to Dragon*Con every year). Although, the more conventions I go to, the better I get. I might have made the mistake of starting medium (RT--yeah, I totally freaked out, but found a new friend and stuck by her), but really, the smaller cons are great (that one I went to in Cleveland?--there were only about 50 of us. RAGT--in Cincinnati--caps out at 500). I just love meeting people I've met on line (and you'd be surprised how many you find there) or talking to readers (you like talking about books, right?) and the panels/workshops are pretty good, too. Yeah, you won't sell a lot of books (if any), but it's exposure in a good way and you might make some friends.ReplyDelete
Good for you, going to DragonCon. That one sounds neat. 25 years ago, I'd have jumped at it. Now, not a chance. It's not the individuals that get to me. I love individuals. It's the mass. I wouldn't sell anything or making any friends because I'd be standing in a corner trying not to cry.Delete
I don't mind controlled chaos for concerts, sporting events, etc, where I have a ticket and a seat number. The crush of first come first serve doesn't appeal to me. The thought of being in the middle of one of those crowds you see on TV for certain events would absolutely cause me to have an panic attack. If I feel like there's no way out or off - forget it I'm not interested. Cruise ships - no.ReplyDelete
Yay, Karyn! Yeah, we had assigned seats for the Rockettes, but they weren't letting anyone in to the seating area and there was still a crush because everyone wanted to sit down. Ugh, I don't even want to consider cruise ships.Delete
I grew up in Chicago, which means I was always surrounded by people. When I found the wide open spaces, I tried to avoid crowds thereafter.ReplyDelete
That said, though I dislike oceans of people, I try to focus on the individual. The person struggling to open a door with her hands full, or the one looking lost. Been there and it's so nice when strangers lend a hand.
To me, seeing the individuals for the mob makes it easier for me to cope.
By all means, promote at your level of comfort. If crowds bother you, cultivate your online presence instead.
Cool. I lived in Morton Grove for a year and a half. I survived that. LOL Definitely loving the wide open spaces here.Delete
Exactly. If I can focus on an individual, it helps - which is why having the Kid around kept me sane.
I'm great at online. Twitter kind of makes me feel like a terrier with too many toys, but for the most part, I love it out here.
I don't like crowds, but probably for a reason different from yours. I'm much happier staying at home too but I occasionally make myself go out and mingle. I actually enjoy RWA National, but I've learned to get a single room. The only roommate I'll share with is LG if he goes (and that depends on where it's held. He's a historian by education so there are some places far more attractive than others. LOL) Most books signings aren't to sell books. They're to meet and cultivate new readers and maybe network with the other authors. And that's not to say that you can't "meet" and cultivate readers while never leaving your house. LOL As much as I dislike social media, though, there are days I'd prefer the big crowds. *rolls eyes*ReplyDelete
The main thing is, do what you need/want to do. You're a big girl. *nods*
After what you've experienced, Silver, I'd say you have every reason to avoid crowds. You're a braver woman than I, though. OMG, I'd have to do a single room if I went to a con. Unless Hubs went, too. LOL, yeah, social media can make me want to ditch the internet some days, too, but I wouldn't go that far. ;o)Delete
Yep, doing my thing. Enjoying my thing. Just letting the world know what my thing is - being a hermit. =o)
Crowds make me miserable. I avoid concerts, bars with music (hmm, any bars, come to think of it), large parties. I'd skip family gatherings if I could get away with it.ReplyDelete
I'd love to go to a SF/F convention, though. I adored them, ages ago. Haven't been to one in twenty years... Are SF/F cons only for young people? I'm old and gray, and can't party all night. :-)
Ack, family gatherings. I hide in a corner at those, too. I had to warn Hubs last year when we got a condo with his family that I might wander off to be alone. And when I did, he went with the flow. Good thing I smoke - it makes for a good excuse to escape the crowd.Delete
I think people of all ages go to SF cons. Some of them party and some of them don't - like at the romance cons.
You know, now that you mention it.. I probably would have a freak out at a convention. I'm terrible with crowds, they sometimes make it to where I can't breath. And if people are coming at me, trying to talk to me... I'd need some liquor or prozac to not have a panic attack.ReplyDelete
I really need to work on it because, oddly enough, I LIKE people, but I just can't stand being around them. :/
Sorry freak outs would be a possibility for you, too, Madilyn. I hate it. LOL about the liquor. Too bad I don't drink. OMG, your comment about liking people but not being able to stand being around them almost made me spit out my coffee earlier. That pretty much sums up how I feel. I do like people - in small doses.Delete