Despite working with the English language every day—as a writer, as an editor, and as a reader—I have difficulty speaking. I stumble and stutter a lot. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I worked so hard to master the written language. I was making up for another aspect of the language I didn’t excel in.
Looking back on it, I blamed moving around a lot as a kid—mixing up accents and idioms—but I don’t use blame anymore. In fact, I’ve rather embraced this awkward part of myself, and it no longer bothers me like it used to. A common comeback from a friend generally includes phrases like, “Okay. English major.” Or “Aren’t you the writer here?” Yeah. Yeah. I get it. I stutter. But it’s an accepted part of my life now, something I don’t fight, something I realized most people look past anyway. I was the one judging myself.
Take this anecdote as an example…
On a drive back from the grocery store, I saw Venus and Jupiter in the sky. I am a HUGE space nerd—probably due to Sailor Moon—so I started rambling about how new information on Pluto released, and that’s when I came across the word “meteors.” The problem was simple. I had just finished talking about how Meg Cabot’s final book in the Mediator series, and now I had to say meteor? It wasn’t happening. I stumbled for three minutes. Eventually, it turned into a giggle fit.
I know the words. I know how to say the words. I just can’t explain why it doesn’t come out that way. But I think the saddest part is when people can no longer take you seriously when you stumble over a word or two. In all honesty, I haven’t had that problem much. In fact, I think I simply worried that it would happen, so I stayed silent. My speech class in college got me over that fear. If I can say this without bragging, I got a big ol’ A in that course. (I know. I know. It’s speech class. But it meant the world to me. In fact, it meant Pluto, Jupiter, and Venus to me.) Up until that point, I thought there was no way I could succeed as a writer with a pronunciation issue like mine. What was I supposed to do if I ever booked a signing where I had to read a chapter out loud? The horror! What happens when people think I couldn’t have possibly written the words if I couldn’t speak them? Double horror! How do I explain myself? …I just died from horror.
It was a panic attack waiting to happen…a panic attack I overcame a long time ago but still comes back every now and then when I have to say specific or pacific, shoulder or solider, Neanderthal, and, I suppose, meteor or mediator. (Fun fact: I stumbled over mediator in my YouTube video—Book Boyfriends—and said “med-a-tore” instead. I suppose I could’ve deleted it, reshot it, edited it out, but…I’ve embraced this part of myself.) At my recent book signings in Barnes & Noble, I even messed up “Wattpad.” For some reason, I cannot, for the life of me, say “watt.” I always say “what.” So, “Whatpad” it is, and the crowd laughed when I made a joke about it. My fear somehow turned into laughter.
These are all words I avoided saying out loud. All words I’ve used in stories a hundred times. All words that are, no matter what, precious to me.
“Emma Saying” on YouTube and “How To Pronounce” are two websites I use on a regular basis to practice. I don’t avoid words anymore, but I still stumble, and I imagine that’s just a part of me that makes me me—a character in my own right—a writer who stumbled over her love for words.
Original posted July 22, 2015
Bad Bloods: November Snow FINALLY came in the mail this week! Safe to say, I’m in love. On top of that, a lovely reader sent me a November Snow book review that cracked me up. “THE AUTHOR GAME OF THRONED ME AND I WAS IN MY FEELINGS OKAY?!?!?!?” – Chic Nerd Reads …Yep. I love your Bad Bloods book reviews. Thank you for sending them to me. ❤
Right now, Bad Bloods: November Rain (book 1) is FREE across all platforms. I hope you check it out. I’ll be debuting the paperbacks at Penned Con in St. Louis this September, and I’ll be sharing a booth with the lovely Natasha Hanova. Stop by her page and say hi!
November Rain (FREE)
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads
12 thoughts on “#MondayBlogs An Author Who Fears Public Speaking”
Loved your personal touch here. I’m fearful of public speaking too but I have no stutter. I’ll have to find a way to lighten my fear and make people laugh. Glad I read this. 🙂
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Learning to just embrace the funny moments helped me. 😄
I always like to look for the humour in things perhaps that is how I will overcome my anxiety. Thank you!
I refuse to believe this. You’re too amazing and perfect!
Well, aren’t you sweet! Thanks, Drew!
Always been terrified of public speaking. Part of it is that I had a weird ‘th’ into ‘d’ sound accent when I was a kid. Got yelled out of me, but being small and timid in nature, it really made me self-conscious of how I speak. Sometimes I think we take public speaking too seriously. People verbally stumble, forget words, cough sneeze, and do all manner of stuff when talking. I yawn all the time if I talk for too long. I keep joking that this anxiousness is why I went into writing instead of acting or singing. 🙂
So true! I definitely think a big part of speech-fear is overthinking it. I always worried about my accents and stutters, but the more I speak, the more I realize people not only don’t mind it about me, they actually love it about me. It makes me human, in my own unique way. Embracing that part of myself was the day I got over public speaking.
You make me feel so much more accepted! I have the same problem along with a slight lisp which is barely noticeable but there have been few who have been way too rude about it 😦
I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! You are definitely accepted. 😀 I’m sorry to hear people have been rude to you before. ::hugs::
I’ve always said my brain doesn’t connect to my mouth; it connects to my hands. I can write flawlessly, but yeah, speaking, not so much. I don’t know when it stopped annoying me, but at some point, I just decided to go with it. Now, whenever I mess up my words, I don’t necessarily try to correct myself. I can usually get a laugh by emphasizing whatever I screwed up.