The second I finished the first draft of this post, the fearsome pictures arrived. Thank God—and Goddess (a photographer who, like my book/web designer, is improbably named Shannon)—they are great! But if you’d watched the lead-up to our shoot, you’d have thought I was going to be shot—or on Oprah, a prospect now relegated permanently to daydream land. Far short of a trembling-in-my-boots Oprah turn, I worked myself into a royal swivet over having my picture taken, frivolous as that sounds in the face of major wars, and political and economic meltdowns.
I worried about those things, too, as Shannon Bodie and I got started on the minor challenge of building what we agree must be the most gorgeous, inspiring, user-friendly author website we’ve ever seen (and we saw a ton). She embarked with ease on the site map design, a critical process, which was Geek to me. (Sorry, it’s in my Selby genes!) But we needed content to fill the pages Shannon was designing so as to feel, she said, like a welcoming Indian courtyard. The words of welcome, the bio and back story, the bits of the book we’d decided should be read aloud—and, not least, those stunning author photos everyone expects to see—it all had to be by or about me.
I wrote feverishly and managed to put off hunting down a recording studio and photographer for as long as I could. Happily, I was in Nova Scotia which, it turns out, is a hotbed of creative talent. So once I bit the photo-audio search bullet, I lucked into an author’s website dream team. The morning I was to record five book selections I’d hesitantly chosen, I googled my audio engineer, John Adams. The guy has recorded Yo Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and John Cage. Seriously? He was willing to work with me? Yep, and though I had significant doubts till I heard the files, our session in a cozy former yoga studio in Mahone Bay went wonderfully well. One down.
What scared the shit out of me (literally, I’m sorry to report) was the prospect of photographs. When Shannon George, my photographer, heard how terrified I was, she kindly agreed to come do a pre-shoot in advance of our real session. Her approach was reassuringly casual. But nothing helped. All week I was filled with dread. The night before, I slept not a wink, just as I’d feared.
Am I as vain and silly as my camera shy behavior might suggest? Maybe. Maybe I do want to look 15 years younger, and prettier, than I am. (Who wouldn’t?) Maybe, though, the prospect of a whole day in the eye of a lens conjured a childhood rife with cameras in my face as I got paraded out to pass hors d’oeuvres and pose for parents and their soggy cocktail party cohorts. Suzie, look, look at the camera! I had learned to put on a false photo face, and I didn’t like it.
And maybe, just maybe, it’s finally hit me that this book that’s been looming for 15 years is about to come out. Maybe a photo shoot made it all a little too real—that I’m soon to reveal the hell out of who I am, and exactly what I look like inside and out, bare naked at the reality dance. Is little Suzie still afraid of being seen? You bet. As you’ll see if you read the book, I’ve worked to be willing to show up, since that’s the whole point of my book. But judging from appearances, there’s more work yet to be done. Thanks for hanging in here with me on the proverbial edge.
Categories: A Writer's Life, Facing Fear
Tags: audio, author, author’s website, Bare Naked at the Reality Dance, book, John Adams, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, photographer, recording studio, Shannon Bodie, Shannon George, website