I can’t begin to explain how nerve-wracking writing these letters and emails are. They go against everything I was taught as a child. Parental disapproval was tremendous when I bragged on myself. “Don’t be a show-off. No one wants to hear it,” I was told over and over. Yet when it comes to marketing and selling myself, it’s all about sharing the accolades.
Maybe that’s why I tend to suck at self-promotion. It’s a hard thing for me to do. My entire childhood was composed of a litany of how I should eschew such chest beating and blaring of the accomplishments. I’m not even that good with receiving gratitude. If I do something that earns thanks, I’m apt to slink away with an embarrassed look on my face. I don’t know how to accept appreciation gracefully because it feels like I’m being boastful about something good I’ve done. So you can just imagine how hard it is for me to shove myself in the spotlight and invite people to look at the things that I can do, the very things that pay the mortgage and buy my groceries.
My career as a writer is half writing and half marketing and promotion. Some days it’s all about look-at-me-and-buy-my-product. I have to convince people I’m great. I have to show off. I have to brag. It’s not enough to list my accomplishments. I have to be enthusiastic about them so those who can help my career along are inspired to do so. So here I am, bragging and cringing inside as I do so, feeling like the world’s biggest narcissist.
That’s part of why I hope to snag an agent. I’d be much happier with someone else pronouncing my abilities while I sit back, look away with a demure smile, and say “Aw shucks.” (That reminds me; I need to work on that demure smile thing. I’ve been told I don’t do demure very well.)
To attract an agent means I have to trumpet about myself, however. I have to do the very act I hope to eventually be saved from. The thing is, I know that I’ve done some really good writing, and it’s been well counterbalanced by the lame-brained crap I’ve committed. I should be able to talk about my strengths without feeling like the world’s biggest farce. Yet I can’t do it comfortably.
So I’m off to write yet another letter to another agent, pronouncing why he/she will be lucky to add me to the client roster. You can be sure I’m wincing the entire time, imagining that agent reading my letter and saying, “Who does this Tamara Jock think she is?”
I think I’m a pretty good writer, actually, and an okay person in general. It’s just super tough for me to tell you that.